A will sets out how a person’s property will be distributed after their death and names a personal representative who is responsible to their pay bills and collect assets.
Sometimes, there are circumstances when a will is contested. This may be because the will was not completed according to state law, because the will’s creator, called a testator, lacked testamentary capacity or was unduly influenced or because the will was procured by fraud.
In Maryland, the will must be signed by the person creating it and must be attested and signed by two witnesses. If this was not completed according to the state’s requirements, it may be contested and is also a reason why the will may be found to be invalid.
Testamentary capacity means that the testator understood the legal effects of signing the will, which includes recognizing the value of his or her assets and who should inherit them. Will contests for lack of testamentary capacity may include situations where the testator was deemed to be incapacitated when the will was signed and may require witness testimony to prove.
Undue influence may occur when the testator was influenced by another person, causing him or her duress resulting in a loss of free will. This might include situations where he or she was threatened or isolated from others.
Finally, if a will was procured by fraud, it means that the testator was deceived into signing it. This can happen when he or she is presented with a will to sign and signs it believing that it is another type of document, like a deed or a power of attorney.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help with questions about will contests, provide advice and representation.