Losing a member of your immediate family is a tragic experience, and certain issues might make the tragedy even worse. For example, your parent recently died and they always stated that they would divide their property evenly among you and your siblings, it would be a painful shock to see that they disinherited all of you in favor of the neighbor who took care of them occasionally.
There are scenarios in which family members and other individuals who expect to inherit from an estate may have reason to challenge the will someone leaves behind and ask the probate courts not to uphold it. When is it possible to challenge or contest someone’s will in Ohio probate court?
When they suspect undue influence
In the scenario mentioned above where a caregiver became the sole beneficiary of the estate, your family could potentially claim that the caregiver abused their authority over or access to your loved one for personal financial gain.
Undue influence might involve coercion and threats. It could also involve manipulation and lying to someone. The result of someone exerting undue influence is that the will is not a representation of the testator’s true wishes but rather the wishes of someone who manipulated or pressured them.
When they suspect fraud
Perhaps the signature on the document truly does not look like your loved one’s signature, or maybe the witnesses attest to the document containing different terms to the best of their knowledge.
There are numerous reasons why you might suspect that the documents presented are the result of fraud, and those situations will typically give you reason to challenge the document in probate court.
When they believe there was a lack of testamentary capacity
When family members believe that the testator drafted the most recent will after experiencing cognitive decline, they could claim that the testator lacked the capacity to create legally-binding documents.
Both testimony about someone’s behavior and medical documentation affirming certain diagnoses could help family members challenge a will because of its creator’s condition when drafting the document. It is also possible to challenge a will if it has terms that violate state law or contradict someone’s rights, such as the spousal right of inheritance.
Understanding common grounds for will challenges can help you determine if you are in a position to pursue probate litigation.