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Rockville Maryland Estate Litigation Legal Blog

How long do you have to challenge a Maryland will?

Losing a loved one often results in a period of depression for close family members and friends. Depression is often accompanied by a sense of emotionlessness or an inability to take action in areas of your life that require attention. How long this emotional response to a loss lasts will vary depending on many factors.

Unfortunately, the depression that often comes with grief could cause legal headaches for you in the future. If you don't take the time to review the estate plan or last will of your loved one, you may not realize if there are mistakes or real issues with those documents until it is too late. Heirs, family members and beneficiaries in Maryland have a limited amount of time in which to challenge estate documents.

What are the legal grounds for contesting a will?

Contesting a will can be a lengthy and costly challenge as the legal reasons to do so can be very difficult to prove. Someone usually can’t challenge a will just because they’re unhappy with the terms and nearly 99% will go through probate without issues.

Maryland has strict rules on who can create a will, how it can be created and what can be included in the document. The person making the will, called the testator, must be 18 years or older and legally competent, the will must be in writing, and the testator and two credible witnesses must sign it.

Should I set up a trust for my children’s inheritance?

As you start building your estate plan, you search for the best way to distribute your assets to your children. Setting up a trust can help protect your assets in multiple ways.

When you set up a trust, you choose a trustee, someone who manages the assets held in the trust. This is typically an attorney or a bank. The trustee follows instructions you leave for your money. Depending on how you set up your trust, assets may be delivered in one lump sum. Or they may pay out in smaller lump sums as your children reach certain ages.

Considerations for avoiding future inheritance conflicts

In creating your estate plan, you document your wishes to thoughtfully leave your assets to your spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings and other loved ones. Your plan is likely the result of considerable thought, effort and detail to protect against the unknowns of the future and provide for your loved ones.

Unfortunately, disputes can still occur after the death of a loved one, regardless of the meticulous effort that went into the estate plan. Whether your heirs get along great or constantly feud, anticipating inheritance issues can minimize the possibility of a contentious future dispute.

Is it smart to make your will online?

Quick, cheap and easy is generally a good way to get tasks done. However, when it comes to creating an estate plan, cutting corners to save time and money is not the way to plan for your family's future.

Online do-it-yourself estate planning services have begun popping up more and more often. While they may seem tempting with ease-of-use and low fees, creating an estate plan online may create more problems than it solves in the long run.

Where should you store your will?

What would you do if the will you created became lost or damaged and no one realized it until after your passing? Would your attorney or loved ones know where to find a copy? Improperly storing your will can lead to confusion when it comes time for a probate court to distribute your assets.

Instead of throwing your will in a drawer or somewhere it can become damaged or lost, consider these options:

Proactive estate planning can benefit blended families

Remarriage and blended families are increasingly common today across both Maryland and the U.S. According to the Pew Research Center, data from a 2013 study showed that 40 percent of new marriages were a subsequent marriage for at least one spouse. In 1960, this number was at just 13 percent.

For blended families, the already complex topic of estate planning can be especially daunting. You may be hesitant on how to approach the subject with your spouse while adult children may grow concerned on their parent’s preparedness for the unknown.

Can a sibling of the deceased challenge the will?

In Maryland, the process of challenging the validity of a will is legally called a caveat proceeding, and only an interested person can initiate this process. Although the name makes it sound like anyone with a desire to challenge the will would be able to do so, this is not the case. Only those who legally qualify as interested people have the standing to challenge the validity of a will.

Someone is legally considered an interested person if he or she is named in the will or would have stood to inherit if there was no will. If you are a sibling of the deceased and want to challenge the will, you can only do so if you meet either of these requirements.

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