Maryland Wills and Estate Attorneys Provide Compassionate Advocacy in Will Contests After the Death of a Loved One
Adeptly navigating complex will contests for more than 20 years
The death of a loved one is hard enough. Having to challenge a will you believe is unfair or invalid, or defend your interests against a will contest, can exacerbate the loss and make the healing process even more difficult. Knowing you have a team in your corner committed to your claim can make all the difference. The Maryland wills and estates attorneys at Altman and Associates have a reputation of providing individualized, caring representation to every client, no matter how challenging the circumstances.
Who can challenge a will?
In Maryland, you must meet particular requirements to challenge a will. A challenger, known as the “caveator,” must demonstrate their connection to the estate in order to establish standing. A caveator can do this in two ways. The caveator must either be named as a beneficiary in the contested will, or, if they are not named in the will as a beneficiary, show they would have inherited under statutory law if the loved one had died without a will.
An experienced Maryland wills and estates attorney is your best resource in determining if you have standing to challenge a will. For more than 20 years, our attorneys have focused on advising clients in complex trust and estate cases.
When can a will be challenged?
The caveator must also have grounds for contesting a will, beyond simply believing that the will is unfair. In Maryland, there are a number of grounds for contesting a will, including:
- Undue influence: Providing your loved one with guidance or your opinion on their estate plan is generally OK. However, taking advantage of a vulnerable person or coercing someone into drafting a will, also known as fraud, is not. One hallmark of undue influence includes a will in which the bequests are significantly changed as compared to former wills. Undue influence might also be at play when the beneficiary who substantially benefits from the changes was instrumental in executing the new will.
- Mental incapacity: Especially with aged loved ones, lack of mental capacity could cause a person to accidentally omit a loved one or make changes they otherwise wouldn’t have when in their right mind. The burden is on the caveator to prove the testator did not understand the consequences of the will when they signed it. This may require offering expert medical testimony to evaluate the state of mind of the testator.
- Statutory requirements: You can also challenge a will if it doesn’t meet the necessary legal requirements. In Maryland, requirements for a valid will include that it be in writing, signed by the testator, and attested and signed by at least two witnesses in the presence of the testator.
- Existence of another will: The most recent, valid Last Will and Testament generally trumps all older wills. In fact, most wills outright state that the present will voids all previous versions. If you can provide a valid will which is dated more recently than the one initially filed with the Probate court, the judge will likely accept the most recent will. To avoid confusion, you should follow your attorney’s guidance in destroying your outdated wills.
We know how important it is that your loved one’s wishes be carried out exactly as they intended. At Altman and Associates, we understand that will contests are a serious, delicate matter for you and your family. We have experience working with people from all backgrounds, including high-to-middle income estates, blended families, same sex partners, and business owners. We bring our personalized, compassionate approach to each client’s situation.
We work tirelessly to see your loved one’s wishes executed
Being involved in a will contest can be grueling, but made more manageable with a team of advocates on your side. The award-winning attorneys at Altman and Associates are dedicated to helping meet your needs. Our offices are conveniently located in the Rockville, Bethesda area and in Columbia, Maryland. Learn more about your options. Call us at 301-468-3220 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. We provide legal advice conveyed with Integrity, Honesty, Experience, and Professionalism.