Bethesda, Maryland, Probate Disputes Attorney
Probate Court Litigation and Will Contests in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia
When someone dies, the law requires that his or her Last Will and Testament must be submitted to the probate court, even if there are no probate assets. The Personal Representative (another name for an executor) is named in the will instrument and has the legal obligation to enforce the will, even if its validity is challenged.
Probate law dictates that a notice of the will filing must be sent both to individuals and institutions who are beneficiaries of the probate estate because they are named in the will and also sent to persons who would inherit if the will is determined to be not valid (usually called “heirs at law”). This group (individuals and institutions named in the will and the heirs at law) are called “Interested Persons” in the probate process. All Interested Persons have the right to challenge the legitimacy of the will for a period of six months after filing. The actual court action to challenge a will is called a “Caveat” proceeding and the grounds for challenging a will are relatively simple to state in a court filing — but often extremely difficult to prove. I frequently advise individuals in the probate dispute process.
Caveat Action: Grounds to Challenge a Will
In most jurisdictions, the grounds for challenging a will involve these questions:
- Did the testator have “capacity” to create and execute a will at the precise time the will was executed? In other words, did the testator know what he or she owned at the time of execution, did he or she know what the will stated and were the terms of the will consistent with the testator’s wishes?
- Was the will executed properly with two (2) witnesses present and was it notarized (required only in Virginia)?
- Did the testator actually sign his or name to the will or was the signature forged?
- Was the will procured by fraud or undue influence?
These are the questions that we ask before litigating a will in the local courts.
Our Services: How a Probate Litigation Attorney Can Help
If you believe that a will should be challenged on any or all of these grounds, I am here to assist you. Also, frequently I assist other estate planning attorneys who find themselves in a situation where the will drafted by that attorney is being subjected to challenge in court. In such a situation, I become the “litigation counsel” in the probate matter, defending the legitimacy and enforceability of the challenging will.
I have substantial experience in this field and have never been defeated in a will contest matter. See the testimonials from my former clients for confirmation of my abilities and success rate. Contact me to discuss how I can help you. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, I practice in probate courts in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.