Contesting a Will in Ohio with An Experienced Probate Lawyer
Strong advocates to protect your rights when challenging a will
A will contest is a challenge to the validity of a will. If you have been excluded from a will of a natural heir such as a parent, and you have your doubts as to the propriety of this exclusion, the proper method of addressing this issue is through a will contest.
Filing a will contest is a serious undertaking and must be handled carefully. If the rigid rules governing Ohio will contest cases are not carefully followed, the case can be dismissed without ever reaching its merits. For example, if the will contest is not filed timely, generally within 90 days after notice, then it becomes too late to contest the will.
Most Ohio trial lawyers do not handle will contests because of the many unusual procedural rules that apply. And most lawyers who draw wills and handle estates stay away from will contests because of the acrimony involved and also because drawing wills and contesting them are two entirely different matters.
Getting information from the beneficiary of a will
Often the beneficiary of a will is less than candid about what really happened, and the only way you can get information is to file a will contest. Filing the case is followed by directing written questions to the beneficiary(s), obtaining the file of the attorney who drew the will, acquiring medical records, etc. After obtaining this information, the next step is to take the depositions of the beneficiary, attorney, and other persons with knowledge.
Common scenarios in a will contest
Common things that occur in will contest cases include a situation where a second spouse receives all assets under a will to the exclusion of the decedent’s children. Another common pattern is where one of the three children ends up as the sole will beneficiary. Wills are often changed shortly before a person’s death when he is in a diminished condition. Sometimes the new will is even drawn by the beneficiary’s own attorney. The new will is often accompanied by change of beneficiary designations on bank accounts, life insurance policies, real estate, annuities, retirement plans, etc.
Undue influence and sound mind will disputes
The most common legal theory used in setting aside a will is undue influence. Undue influence occurs when a person is pressured by another to sign a will that does not represent his true intent. I have written an article published in the Probate Law Journal of Ohio on “How to Identify and Prove Undue Influence.”
Another common legal theory is lack of sound mind (competency). A person must be of sound mind to make a will and there are specific legal standards in Ohio to establish soundness of mind. Other legal theories are occasionally but rarely used to challenge a will.
Experience counts, qualified will contest representation
For over 30 years, I have handled probate disputes and will contests including challenging and defending wills. The practice at The Law Office of Richard Kolb, LLC, is limited to probate litigation and I do not handle any other type of case. My experience includes hundreds of will contest cases, of which many have gone to trial. Most recently in 2016 two will contest cases went to trial, one lasting five days and the second lasting ten days. I have also been involved with will contest appeals, three times going to the Ohio Supreme Court. For examples of my experience and a list of some of the will contest cases I have handled, please visit my sample cases page.
Contact an experienced Ohio will contest lawyer
The Law Office of Richard Kolb, LLC is one of the few law firms in Ohio who are willing to consider taking a will contest on a contingency fee basis. This makes our services available to people who cannot otherwise afford to pay a lawyer on an hourly basis. We represent clients throughout Ohio in a complete range of probate litigation matters. Call 419-244-3006 or contact me online to schedule a free initial consultation in person or by phone.