These days, it is not uncommon for residents in Maryland to have or consider drafting an estate plan. These documents help designate what property and assets go to what heir or beneficiary. While an estate plan is an important step to take no matter what age a person is, it is essential that individuals properly construct and file their will, ensuring that it is valid. This could help avoid issues regarding probate, which could lead to probate litigation.
What is probate litigation? Simply put, it is contesting a will. A beneficiary or an heir could contest the will on various grounds, which leads to the probate litigation. When the deceased has a sizeable estate, including real estate, personal property, gifts, savings and checking accounts and trusts, it may increase the likelihood that beneficiaries will enter into probate litigation.
There are various reasons why a will may be contested. In some situations, heirs and beneficiaries do not receive complete and accurate information regarding the size and contents of the estate. In addition, beneficiaries may not be able to come to an agreement with regards to conservatorships and guardianships. In other situations, there may be allegations of undue influence. Another situation that may lead to probate litigation occurs when a beneficiary is not fulfilling their role as a fiduciary or there is a dispute with regards to who should act as the personal representative of the estate. Probate litigation may also be necessary if there was an incomplete disclosure about the estate's creditors.
Why is probate litigation important? This process may help avoid or resolve disputes among family members by reaching an amicable solution. It may also provide beneficiaries with the maximum benefits from the properties in the estate. In addition, it may resolve tax liabilities and safeguard the wealth of the estate.
While probate litigation can be very beneficial to sort through current or potential issues with an estate plan or will, it can be a complex process that is time barred. Those seeking to contest a will should understand the process and their rights regarding the situation. This will ensure their rights and interests are protected.