You can contest a will in Ohio if you believe the will is invalid under state laws. A will contest is a challenge by an interested party to the estate, such as an heir or beneficiary, to all or part of the will's provisions. Ohio permits will challenges if the deceased person was unduly pressured or coerced into the will, was mentally incompetent or did not understand the provisions when the will was made. You can contest a Ohio will if fraud was involved or if the document wasn't executed properly.
Establish your legal standing. You can contest the will if you are a legal heir who was omitted or an heir or beneficiary who was given a smaller share than you believe you are due. File proof of your identity and relation to the deceased person, such as your birth certificate, a family tree or your state identification, with the Ohio probate court if necessary.
Read More: Can I Contest a Will in Ohio?
Get evidence for your will contest. The burden of proof is on you, so you must get as much evidence of your challenge basis as possible. Get copies of medical records for the decedent if you are alleging she was not mentally sound at the time of the will's preparation and signing, as required under Ohio laws. Consult the decedent's physician; the physician may be called to testify in a competency contest. In cases of fraud or undue influence, make a list of persons who witnessed examples. Locate and review the decedent's correspondence, as communications may offer possible proof of coercion or pressure.
Locate an official document containing the decedent's signature if you are questioning the signing of the will. Look for a document that was acknowledged in front of a notary public, like a home mortgage. Ohio permits the testimony of a handwriting expert in contest cases, and the person will need a sample recognized as authentic by the court.
Speak to the persons on your witness list before filing in court to establish the information you believe each person has. A witness can harm your case if he offers testimony that contradicts your position. Advise each witness you are taking the case to court; the persons must be present at hearings.
Visit the Ohio probate court conducting the estate proceedings. Request the paperwork necessary to initiate a will contest. Complete the papers and follow all given instructions. File the papers in court and take the copy of your motion given to you by the clerk.
Serve a copy of the motion on all parties in the case in the manner dictated by the Ohio court. Interested parties include all heirs and beneficiaries, the executor and the Ohio attorney general's office in some cases; check with probate court if you are not sure about the interested parties. You may be required to personally serve the papers or use certified mail, return receipt requested. Ask a person not a party to the case to personally serve papers for you or hire a professional service. Obtain completed and signed affidavits of service from personal servers; get blank affidavits from the probate court if needed. Keep your mailing receipts if mail service is used.
File your proof of service with the Ohio probate court. Attend all hearings and bring any evidence to court with you. Follow all directions issued by the court.
Contesting a will with a "no contest" clause may result in you losing all estate rights if you do not prevail in court.
Contact an attorney if you are unsure about your case or need assistance with the Ohio will contest process.
Anna Assad began writing professionally in 1999 and has published several legal articles for various websites. She has an extensive real estate and criminal legal background. She also tutored in English for nearly eight years, attended Buffalo State College for paralegal studies and accounting, and minored in English literature, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.