How To Contest a Will and Win
A Last Will and Testament allows someone to pass on their estate to their beneficiaries as they see fit in the state of Maryland. Oftentimes, a loved one will have changed their Last Will and Testament (will) unexpectedly, and beneficiaries will not receive what was originally promised or intended by their loved one that passed away. There are several different legally valid reasons that contesting a will is not only appropriate but necessary. Learning the legal basis for contesting a will can help you determine if you have a strong case to contest your loved one’s will.
In order to contest a will, you must have “legal standing.” This first step will help determine if you have the legal right under the law to challenge the will. Some of the following are ways to help determine if you have legal standing.
- Actual Harm. Only those who are actually harmed or damaged by a will can attempt to challenge a will. These people are known as “interested parties.” If you did not receive the family home in the will, but now have to share it with a sibling, you would be an interested party to the will. However, if the prior will gave the family home to your brother, and now gives it to your sister, you are not considered an interested party to the will.
- Statute of Limitations. You must contest a will officially within the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is the deadline by which a case must be heard in court. If you fail to file a claim regarding the will by the deadline, you will lose all rights to file any future claim regarding your loved one’s will.
Along with legal standing, you must also have a valid legal reason to contest a will’s validity under the law. Some of the following are reasons that a will may be declared invalid.
- Undue Influence. If you can show through evidence that your loved one was influenced by another person either through unethical or illegal means, you may have a case to contest a will in court.
- If you can prove that the new will was forged in any way, then you will have a strong case to contest a will in court.
- If you find that any type of fraud was committed in the execution or adoption of the new will by your loved one, you may have a strong case to contest the will’s validity.
- Lack of Testamentary Capacity. If you can prove that the new will created by your loved one was made without sound mind or mental ability to understand the consequences of a new will, you may have the ability to file a claim due to lack of testamentary capacity.
If you are attempting to contest a will, several formal legal procedures must be met. A formal objection must be established to the validity of the will in court. . There are several procedural rules that must be followed to appropriately file a claim against the validity of a will. Failure to follow these procedural rules could lead to a complete dismissal, even if you have a valid claim.
Let Us Help You Today
If you are considering pursuing a will contest, contacting an experienced attorney can help you understand the confusing process, and help you understand if you have a valid claim and legal standing. If you believe you have the right to contest a will, you have the right to receive strong representation in your estate litigation. Contact our experienced Prince Frederick estate & trust litigation attorneys serving southern Maryland at Meng Law at 410-535-5500 or online today.