Putting in the effort of writing out your plans with wills and estates can help your family to avoid the stress and publicity involved with the probate process. It’s important to put a proper plan in place to decide the succession of your assets, and creating this plan will help to avoid a large number of complications that may result after your passing. Nobody likes to think about their own mortality, which is why our estate planning attorneys in Bethesda and Washington, D.C. are here to help! JDKatz is proud to serve as your knowledgeable team of estate lawyers in Maryland, delivering comprehensive services to help optimize the outcome for your needs. Our law firm specializes in tax law, estate law, business law, and litigation services to provide reliable representation that puts your needs first.
Estate planning takes a lot of thought and effort in order to create a distribution that provides for your family exactly to your specifications. Any small errors or technical mistakes, though, may provide the perfect opportunity for an individual to challenge your will. It’s important to create a will that is technically sound and comprehensively protected from any outside challenges. Hiring an experienced estate planning attorney can help you and your family to avoid the stress and costs involved with probate litigation. Today, we’ll briefly discuss a few areas where people who were unhappy with your will can raise challenges to the legitimacy of your will. When done, be sure to contact our estate law professionals for expert guidance!
Intentions with Free Will
One common occurrence for a will challenge develops when your relatives do not believe that your will was enacted with your true intentions and through your own free will. This situation happens in many cases when you write a provision in your will that may seem strange or unfairly treats some of your beneficiaries. When this happens, your relatives can challenge your will on the basis that the instructions do not represent your free will. If you provide instructions that you know will not be well-received by your family, it’s important to take extra steps to enforce your free will in this matter.
Questioning Your Mental Capacity
Similar to questioning your intentions, beneficiaries and family relatives can raise concerns as to your mental capacity in being able to draft a valid will. From a legal standpoint, you need to be able to prove your testamentary capacity, which involves a few requirements, knowing:
- The nature and extent of your property.
- Who should logically be expected to inherit your assets.
- The disposition that your will is making.
- The full effects of signing a will that combines all of these factors.
- A minimum age. Being under the age of 18 typically means you do not have the mental capability to accurately and thoroughly create a will.
This section of challenging a will can be very complicated. As the testator, you may need to prove your mental fortitude. Every state holds different regulations regarding what qualifies as testamentary capacity, making it important to cover all of your bases throughout the estate planning process. Many people will go through a medical evaluation by their doctor around the same time that they are creating their will as an added measure against will challenges.
The easiest way to successfully challenge a will is to do so on the basis that it is invalid due to technicalities. Small errors, such as failing to sign on an important page, can result in big problems for you and your family later on. The state you reside in will hold its own unique set of regulations, meaning that every challenge can be different. A few technical issues you may encounter when drafting your will includes not using the right jargon, not having enough people present to witness your signatures, failing to notarize the documents, and more. Small errors can create big problems for your family and estate, so be sure to cross your t’s and dot your i’s perfectly throughout the process. As Maryland’s estate planning attorneys, we help large number of clients ensure that all of their details are in order.
This category is similar to the legitimacy of your intentions and can be brought forth when challenging your will. Oftentimes, interested parties will challenge a will because the testator was under duress and influenced by a close friend or family member to change the beneficiary elements to benefit them personally. In order to do this, the challengers will need to bring forth evidence that there was a destruction of free agency and willpower, which often results from coercion and threats. Unfortunately, this occurrence happens often due to an elderly resident’s inability to retain control as their mental capacities wane. While hard to prove, undue influence is one challenge that can disrupt your succession plan and result in probate litigation.
The process of examining wills and probate for the purpose of challenging legitimacy may sound scary, but it is in place to protect against corruption and other unethical issues that may be involved with inheritances. If you are drafting your will or are worried about its validity, the estate law professionals at JDKatz can provide comprehensive assistance through every step of the process. Our estate planning attorneys excel in providing tax and estate representation to help individuals in a wide range of cases. Contact us today to see how we can help you properly prepare for the future!