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.
Are you named in the will?
You can challenge the validity of a will if you are named in it. If you stand to receive some part of the estate based on the information in the will, you are a beneficiary of the will, and are also able to contest the will.
Would you have inherited if there was no will?
You could also challenge the validity of the will if you would have stood to inherit had there not been a will at all. When there is no will, intestate succession laws determine who will inherit from an estate. These laws involve a hierarchy of relatives with the surviving spouse and minor children standing to inherit first. As a sibling, you would have only inherited under intestate succession if the deceased had no surviving spouse, children or parents.
If you have a desire to challenge a loved one’s last will and testament, it is important you first determine if you are one of the few people able to do so. However, it may also be helpful to verify you have a legally valid reason and are within the legally allowed time to initiate this process. The action of challenging a will should not be taken lightly. However, there are circumstances when challenging a will is the most appropriate way to protect your rightful inheritance.