If you wish to file a petition contesting a will with Maryland’s probate court, you have limited time to caveat the will. The statute of limitations to caveat a will is only six months after the will is admitted to probate. You need a knowledgeable and experienced probate litigation attorney, as the cost to contest the will and related legal restrictions can be substantial.
Who May Contest a Will?
Any interested party named in any version of a will may contest it. Interested parties include:
- Beneficiaries of the will
- Heirs who would inherit by intestate succession if there was no will
- Beneficiaries of an older will left out of the more recent version admitted to probate
On What Grounds Can Someone Contest a Will in Maryland?
Sometimes, an heir will find a newer version of the will that could be legal and executable under Maryland law. In some cases, beneficiaries may argue that a more recent version of the will was created under duress or when the deceased individual was not mentally competent anymore.
Grounds for contesting a will include:
- The will is not legally binding under Maryland law. For example, it was not signed by the testator (decedent) or a representative, it was not witnessed and signed by two credible witnesses, or the decedent was not mentally competent to sign a will at the time.
- The testator was subjected to undue influence to create or amend a will through coercion, fraud, or force.
- A new will created later than the will the court currently considers valid exists.
- The will currently in the hands of the probate court could have been forged or otherwise created through fraud.
How Does the Maryland Probate Court Handle a Will Contest?
Contesting a will in Maryland begins a caveat proceeding in the Orphans’ Court, where all probate proceedings occur.
To contest a will, you must file a petition to caveat with the Orphans’ Court within six months of the will being admitted to probate court according to Maryland Rule 6-431. You must draft the petition to describe why you believe you have legitimate grounds to challenge the will and provide additional documentation to support your claim.
Having an experienced probate litigation attorney on your side when contesting a will can help build your case. If you are the estate representative responsible for executing the will, you should also have a probate litigation attorney to defend against will contests.
Contact a Maryland Probate Attorney for More Information About Contesting a Will
If you need help contesting a will in southern Maryland, contact The Law Office of Ralph W. Powers Jr., P.C. We have decades of experience in probate litigation proceedings representing beneficiaries and estates. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation.