It is well-known that a Last Will and Testament can be contested, primarily for reasons such as forgery, fraud or undue influence. In Maryland, these hearings are referred to as “caveat proceedings” and are handled by the Orphans’ court, or state probate court.
To have standing to file a caveat proceeding in Maryland, you must be considered an “interested party”. Two factors determine whether you qualify. First, you are a beneficiary of a will or if there is no will and the decedent died intestate, then you stand to inherit by the laws of intestate succession.
You must act swiftly if you plan to contest a will. The statute of limitations for a caveat proceeding in Maryland is six months from the initial appointment of a personal representative.
To determine whether you have grounds for a will contest, consider the following:
- You have grounds if the will contradicts any state laws such as the requirements for validity (in writing, signed by the testator, signed by two witnesses, and the testator was over the age of eighteen).
- If someone can be shown to have coerced the testator into signing the will, you have grounds known as undue influence.
- If you can show that the testator was not of sound mind at the time the will was executed you may have grounds to contest.
- If you believe the will entered into probate was revoked by a new will, you can contest probating the old will.
- If you can show the will was forged, you have grounds to contest.
Keep in mind that unfair allocations, such as your sister inherits more than you, are not grounds for contesting a will in Maryland.
If you’d like to speak with an attorney about contesting a will or if you are an executor of a will who is facing a challenge in the Greater Baltimore area, please contact Stouffer Legal at 443-470-3599.