It’s hard enough to lose a loved one, but finding out that the person’s will includes some questionable bequests to certain individuals can be devastating. Without the deceased around to address your concerns, you may wonder if you have any legal options regarding the situation. Fortunately, Ohio law does allow you to dispute a will or individual provisions through a proceeding called a will contest. However, there are strict requirements and you bear a heavy burden for proving your case. While you should always trust a will contest attorney to help you navigate the complicated process, some general information may be useful.
Standing to Contest a Will
Not just anyone can contest a will. You must have standing under Ohio law, which means some financial stake or interest in the estate of the deceased person. Typically, you could meet the standing requirement if you’re a direct heir of the decedent and would have received a portion of the estate if there was no will. You may also be eligible to contest the will if the will provides a distribution to you, but it’s significantly less than that given to other people that are similarly situated in their relationship to the deceased.
Grounds for a Will Contest
You may not like how the executor of a will distributed assets to beneficiaries, but your disagreement with the provisions isn’t sufficient grounds to dispute it. There are only a few valid reasons to contest the will, including:
- The person who executed the will was not of sound mind when doing so;
- There is a procedural mistake in creating the will, such as improper notarization or witnessing; and,
- The executor was under duress or undue influence from a beneficiary when creating the will.
You have three months from the date a will is accepted into probate in which to contest it. “Accepted” into probate doesn’t mean simply filing it: There must actually be a court order stating acceptance of the will, and the date printed on the court’s order starts the clock. The only exception to the three months’ rule is if you suffered from a legal disability that prevented you from filing a will contest.
Will Contest Procedural Rules
To initiate proceeding to dispute the will, you must file a lawsuit in probate court in the county where the estate is pending. You’re required to give notice to all other interested parties, including beneficiaries, heirs, the executor, and the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
Would You Like More Information on Will Contests?
Will contests are complicated and you need a strong case to prove wrongdoing. It’s important to work with a probate attorney that has extensive experience and comprehensive knowledge of the Ohio laws that govern these matters. The probate law team at the Law Office of Mike Gertner can advise you on your options for a will contest and represent your interests in court, so please contact us to find out more information. You may also call our Columbus office today at 614-463-9393 locally or toll free at 877-772-1011 to set up a no-fee, no-obligation review of your case.