If I Don’t Agree with a Will, Should I File a Caveat Proceeding?
A caveat proceeding is the formal method of contesting a will in Maryland. Only certain people have the right to file a caveat proceeding, and they must have adequate legal grounds to challenge the will or the court will not hear the case.
If you believe there is some wrongdoing associated with a will, you should consider talking to a probate attorney about filing a caveat proceeding. If there is no legal fault with the will, but you find the terms unfair, then you may need to seek relief elsewhere.
Reasons You are Allowed to Contest a Will Through a Caveat Proceeding
Maryland law allows people to challenge a will in court for specific reasons. In a caveat proceeding, you can allege that:
- There’s a newer version of the will. You need to produce a version that is valid and dated after the will at issue in the case.
- The will is not legally valid. If you can show that the will is lacking an essential element, such as legitimate witness signatures, then you have grounds to set aside the will.
- The person who made the will was not legally competent at the time. If you can prove that the testator didn’t understand what they were doing when they made or signed the will, then it can be declared invalid.
- The will was produced by fraud. You might be able to show that the signature is a forgery or that the person who created the will thought they were signing another type of document and didn’t realize they were executing a new will.
- Someone exerted undue influence. A will can be challenged on the grounds that someone pressured or coerced the testator to put in terms that they would not have otherwise.
At times, it can be hard to tell whether fraud or undue influence played a role in the creation of a will with unexpected terms. You might consider investigating the people and circumstances associated with the execution of the will, or talk to an attorney who could help you determine whether you might have a valid caveat claim.
People Who are Allowed to File a Caveat Proceeding
If the deceased person promised to leave you something in their will but did not, your disappointment alone does not make you eligible to file a caveat proceeding. The only individuals allowed to contest a will through a caveat proceeding are beneficiaries named in a will (including other versions of the will) and individuals who would otherwise inherit if there was no will. If you do not have the ability to contest a will through caveat, you may be able to pursue other legal remedies.
Talk to an Experienced Probate Attorney Soon if You Want to Contest a Will
Maryland law gives you very little time to act if you want to challenge a will through a caveat proceeding. If you believe that fraud or other circumstances give you valid reasons to contest a will, talk to the experienced probate attorneys at the Law Office of Ralph W. Powers, Jr., P.C. now to find out how we could assist.