Can You Be Blocked from Seeing a Will in Maryland?

There are several reasons why someone may want to view another person’s will. In the state of Maryland, the privacy of a will and who can access it depends on various factors.

During the testator’s lifetime, they can withhold their will from others by not sharing it or by keeping it with their lawyer, who is bound to maintain confidentiality. If the will is registered, access is typically restricted to the testator or those with written permission. However, during probate, any interested party, including those named in the will or potential intestate heirs, can request a copy, overriding the testator’s privacy wishes. Once probate is completed, the will becomes a public record accessible to all.

Seek assistance from our Maryland wills and estate planning lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras by calling (410) 694-7291.

Accessing a Will in Maryland

During the testator’s lifetime, they have the ability to prevent others from viewing their will by simply not sharing it with anyone. Further, if the will is kept in their lawyer’s office, then the lawyer is prohibited from disclosing it to anyone without the testator’s permission. In case the will has been officially registered, Maryland has specific laws governing access to it. Typically, only the testator or individuals who have received written permission from the testator can view the will.

However, the situation changes when the will is in probate. During this phase, any interested party, which includes individuals named in the will or those who would inherit under Maryland’s intestacy statute, has the right to request a copy of the will. It is important to note that even if the testator expressed a desire to exclude certain individuals or prevent them from viewing the will, interested parties are entitled to access it. There are limited options for maintaining privacy or sealing the will during probate, and these measures may not ultimately prevent access by interested parties.

Once the will has successfully completed the probate process, it becomes a public record and can be accessed by anyone.

Accordingly, there are many factors to consider when questioning whether or not you may be blocked from seeing a will. Guidance from our Columbia wills and estate planning attorneys can be invaluable when reviewing your specific case and determining the appropriate course of action.

What Are Some of the Reasons Why You Would Want to See Another Person’s Will in Maryland?

There are many potential motives for accessing another person’s will. If you need to view a will for any of the following reasons, our legal professionals can explain the options available to you:

Understanding Inheritance Rights

One primary motivation to access another person’s will is to clarify and assert one’s inheritance rights. This is particularly important for individuals who believe they may be beneficiaries or heirs under the will. By reviewing the will, they can determine whether they are entitled to a share of the deceased person’s estate.

Ensuring Fair Distribution

Accessing a will is often essential to ensure the fair distribution of assets and properties among beneficiaries. Interested parties may wish to confirm that the deceased person’s assets are distributed according to their stated wishes in the will, thereby preventing any potential disputes or conflicts among heirs.

Validating Executor Appointments

In some cases, individuals may seek access to a will to confirm the appointment of an executor or personal representative. This is crucial for ensuring that the person designated in the will is responsible for managing the estate and carrying out the deceased person’s wishes as outlined in the will.

Challenging the Will’s Validity

Occasionally, individuals may want to access a will in Maryland to challenge its validity. They may believe that the will was not executed properly, or there may be concerns about the testator’s mental capacity at the time of its creation. By examining the will, interested parties can gather evidence to support their claims of invalidity.

Resolving Disputes and Conflicts

Accessing another person’s will may be necessary to address disputes or conflicts that arise among potential beneficiaries or interested parties. Reviewing the will can provide clarity on the testator’s intentions, potentially aiding in the resolution of disagreements or legal issues that arise.

Understanding Family and Personal Relationships

Finally, some individuals may seek to access a will in order to gain a better understanding of family and personal relationships. The contents of a will can shed light on the deceased person’s feelings towards various individuals, potentially providing insight into the dynamics and emotions within the family.

Sealing a Will in Maryland

Sealing a will is typically done to restrict access from the general public or individuals who are not considered interested parties during the probate process. The primary purpose of sealing a will is to maintain confidentiality and privacy, especially when there are sensitive or personal details in the will that do not directly pertain to legal proceedings. In such cases, the will may be sealed to protect this confidential information from public scrutiny while still allowing interested parties to access it as required by law.

The process for sealing a will in Maryland involves filing a petition with the court. In the petition, the individual or party seeking to seal the will must provide valid reasons for doing so. As previously mentioned, these reasons typically relate to privacy concerns and sensitive information contained within the will at issue. The court will then review the petition and the presented reasons to determine if there are sufficient grounds for sealing the will. If the court deems the reasons valid and in the best interests of the parties involved, it may grant the request to seal.

It is important to note that sealing a will is not a common occurrence and is subject to judicial discretion. Our legal team can help ensure compliance with Maryland’s laws and regulations regarding will sealing.

Call Our Wills and Estate Planning Attorneys for Help with Your Case in Maryland

Get help from our Baltimore wills and estate planning lawyers by calling Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.