What Happens When a Relative Contests a Will?

Estate planning and administration is complicated, and it can be made even more so when a family member contests a will. Whether you are an executor being baselessly accused of wrongdoing, or you believe your loved one’s will should be contested, our experienced Maryland estate administration attorneys are here to help you through the legal process going forward. Here are some of the questions you may have:

What are some of the main components of a will?

People write wills to ensure their wishes are carried out as they would have intended, including assets distribution to all the beneficiaries listed in the will. When your loved one passes away, he or she is referred to as a decedent. A decedent generally appoints several different people in their will to ensure everything is taken care of as planned. Among these positions include executors, trustees, and legal guardians. Generally, the executor of the estate is in charge of handling the decedent’s estate after their death.

Trustees and guardians are generally appointed when the decedent is the last living parent of a child who is under the age of 18. Trustees, on one hand, manage the decedent’s finances until their child is of age to do so competently and maturely. Guardians, many would argue, are perhaps even more important. Though no parent wants to imagine their child growing up without their guidance, the truth is, it is always best to select someone they trust to care for their child as their own. When the last remaining parent with a child under the age of 18 fails to appoint a guardian, the court may decide who will raise the child instead.

Why would somebody contest a will?

For a will to be valid and legally enforceable, it must first satisfy several criteria. Maryland demands that the will is written and signed by two witnesses in front of the testator, and signed by the testator. The testator must at least 18 years old and legally competent upon signing the document. That being said, there are certain cases where a will can go through probate and a family member believes it does not follow the aforementioned guidelines. When this happens, that person may contest the will. However, only people specifically mentioned in the current or previous will may contest them. Wills are most commonly contested when they are created under the influence of another party, improperly executed, marred by fraud or bribery, or if the decedent was mentally incompetent when writing the will.

Contact our experienced Maryland firm

The attorneys at JD Katz have years of experience compassionately guiding clients in Maryland through the estate planning and administration process. Our firm also has experience with matters of elder law, business law, tax law, and litigation. For a legal team that will put your needs first, contact JD Katz today.