Can anyone contest a will?

A death in the family is sad as well as painful, and Ohio residents may struggle with the additional stress of probate. If interested parties agree, probate usually goes through quickly; however, if people contest the will, the process could be arduous and may drag out for months or even years.

Interested parties may contest a will if they have grounds to do so and if they file promptly. Failure to meet the deadline will lock out those who wish to contest because allowing a limited time expedites the process of paying out the estate’s outstanding debts as well as completing the distributions to the designated heirs.

Interested parties must have valid reasons to contest; it is not enough for them to think that they have rights to an inheritance based on family relationships or other associations. Some valid reasons to contest a will can be mental incapacitation of the decedent at the time the will was drawn, coercion of decedent to write a will, the document not being signed and witnessed correctly, and fraud. Do-it-yourself wills may have higher instances of being contested because of lack of attorney representation, which could leave matters open for more significant margins of error.

Most people consider family to be interested parties; however, friends, acquaintances and even former spouses may be included as well. Those who are named in the will as well as in prior wills may be interested parties, making the list quite extensive. It is crucial for the person who contests a will, the petitioner, to identify the interested parties because they will be notified of impending litigation and have the option to participate.

Contesting a will can be challenging, especially if there are many interested parties involved. Speaking with an experienced probate attorney may be a crucial first step. The attorney may be able to guide potential petitioners toward making informed decisions that lead to favorable outcomes.