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Grounds that an interested party may cite to contest a will

On Behalf of | May 4, 2023 | Wills |

A will communicates a person’s wishes for distributing an estate’s assets after death and sometimes the care of minor children when necessary. For the most part, Maryland state laws respect a testator’s final wishes but also recognize that an interested party may have legitimate complaints about the validity or content of a will.

Definition of an interested party

Only people who have a recognizable legal interest in the estate of the deceased may take legal action to contest a will. They are known as interested parties. People who are actually named as beneficiaries in a will meet the requirement. People excluded from a will may also qualify as an interested party if state intestacy laws would recognize them as heirs if no will existed at all. For example, children who go unmentioned in a will are interested parties.

Grounds for contesting a will

Once you establish that you are an interested party, then you must cite your grounds for challenging a will.

To move forward in probate court, you must show evidence of any of the following:

  • Will is invalid due to missing witnesses, testator incompetency, or missing signature.
  • The undue influence of a person convinced the testator to sign the will for the person’s benefit.
  • The testator lacked the mental capacity to understand the document.
  • The testator was forced with threats to sign the will.
  • The will is a forgery.
  • A newer version of the testator’s will exists.

Where and when to contest a will

All wills must be probated. This is done at the Maryland Orphans’ Court located in the jurisdiction where the testator resided. Contesting the will requires preparation of a caveat petition. This document will describe your concerns about the will. You must accompany it with documentation to support your claims.