What to know about a will contest

In the state of Ohio, assets retained within a person’s estate at the time of their death may be subject to probate. The probate process allows a judge to determine if a deceased person left behind a valid will. If so, the language contained within that document determines how estate assets will be distributed. If not, the judge overseeing the case may decide who gets the assets.

What happens if someone decides to contest a will?

If someone decides to challenge a will, a hearing must be held to determine if the challenge can proceed. For this to happen, the person pursuing the challenge needs to prove that the document was written by someone who lacked the mental capacity to do so. Alternatively, this individual could contend that the document should be declared invalid because it lacks the testator’s signature.

Who has the standing to pursue a will contest?

Typically, only those who were named in the will are allowed to contest it. Individuals who may be entitled to inherit property if the document is declared invalid might also have the standing to challenge it. A probate litigation attorney may be able to help you determine if you have the legal authority to contest a deceased person’s last will and testament.

Should you take action?

If you are considering contesting a person’s will, it may not be in your best interest to follow through with probate litigation even if you have the right to do so. This is because doing so may sour the relationship that you have with a parent, sibling, or cousin. It’s also important to remember that any costs associated with defending the estate against the challenge are paid by the estate. Therefore, airing your grievances could deprive someone else of their inheritance.

The loss of a loved one may be a traumatic experience, and in some cases, it may cause you to lash out at those around you. It may be in your best interest to deal with those feelings outside of court as opposed to challenging a family member’s will. However, if you have serious concerns that the deceased person was manipulated when writing their will, you may want to challenge its validity.