Will Contest

Only certain people are allowed to contest a will.  These people are said to have “standing” which means they have the legal right to bring an action.  There are three groups of people included: people who are named in the will; named in a prior will; or heirs at law who would inherit if the will was found to be invalid.  Thus, you cannot contest your neighbor’s will just because you don’t think it reflects your neighbor’s wishes.

There is a time limit on the filing of a will contest.  Under Ohio law a will contest must be filed within three months after the filing of the certificate in the Court indicating everyone entitled to notice has received notice or has waived notice.

A will contest is filed in Probate Court indicating the grounds for the contest.  The person who is contesting the will must prove:

  • The will was improperly created or modified,
  • The person was otherwise unduly influenced,
  • The person was not mentally capacity at the time the will was signed,
  • Improper witnessing or signing of the will,
  • The will was created by some sort of fraud, or
  • There is a more current will than the one filed

Ohio requires that such evidence be presented through the same process in which other civil actions are pursued, including the right to a jury trial.  The will contest can be brought before a judge or a jury.