Typically, all but one percent of wills go through the probate process without a problem. This is because courts generally take the stance that a will is in the decedent's voice and conveys his or her final wishes. And, since that individual can no longer speak about those wishes, Ohio courts will usually stand by the document. This can make challenging a will very difficult.
If you plan to challenge a loved one's will, for instance your father's, then certain grounds must exist. In other words, you must have a valid reason to bringing forth a challenge. To find out some of the most common reasons for challenging a will, read further.
Lack of capacity
In order for a will to be valid, the decedent must have had the legal capacity to draft it in the first place. This means that the individual must have been 18 years of age or older and not suffered from a mentally incapacitating state. For example, your father must not have been senile, suffered from dementia, Alzheimer's or been under the influence of a mind-altering substance.
If you plan to challenge the will based on lack of capacity, you must be able to prove that your father did not understand what he was doing when he drafted the will or did not comprehend the significance of the will.
Manipulation and fraud
Another reason why you might try to challenge the will is if you believe that someone was manipulating your father into writing the will, or if the document is a forgery or fraudulent in some way. If there was undue influence from another source, then your father may not have been able to exercise his own will when drafting the document.
There is another will
Sometimes, people write multiple wills over the course of the years. Typically, the most recent version supersedes any earlier drafts. This means that if the probate court has an older version, you can challenge it by presenting the newer copy.
Witnesses and provisions
In order to be valid, wills must contain certain legal elements. For example, in many cases the document must include the signatures of the decedent as well as two adult witnesses that are not beneficiaries named in the will. In addition, the will must contain language that specifically states it is the will of the decedent. Also, the document should name an executor and contain instructions to pass property to a specified beneficiary. If certain legal elements are missing, you may be able to successfully challenge the document.
If you are thinking about contesting a will, it is important that you have a valid reason to take the challenge to court. Take the time to research Ohio estate laws and find out if you are eligible to challenge the document and if you have reasonable grounds to do so.