For many families, the will and probating process is fairly straight forward. A family member passes, their will is read, the respective family members receive their inheritance, and everyone continues with their life. This is the ideal scenario that wills are created for.
Real life, however, isn’t always so simple.
Perhaps you feel a will has been tampered with, is outdated, or was created under false pretenses. If so, you may plan to challenge a will or get it thrown out. Alternatively, depending on your relationships with your other family members, it’s possible they’ll try to come after your inheritance.
The question becomes, how iron clad is a will? What chance is there of having it thrown out altogether? Let’s start at the most important point:
There’s a reason why such an emphasis is put on creating wills. Because they’re meant to be the final and official requests of someone who is no longer with us. They act as a legal representation of a person no longer capable of changing their mind or voicing their opinion.
Because of this, they’re created to be fairly binding.
Unless there are very obvious flaws within the will or you have solid evidence of foul play, you’ll fight an uphill battle trying to get a will tossed out. That said, it’s not impossible. Here are some of the grounds upon which a will can be contested.
It is required that the maker of the will was of sound mind when they planned on their estate settlements. Conditions such as Alzheimer or dementia could give grounds for contesting a will, though medical proof would be needed.
If the will was overseen by someone with power of attorney, this stipulation becomes much harder to use.
Different states have their own rules on how exactly a will must be signed and witnessed. In Ohio, a will must be signed in front of two witnesses who acknowledge that the person signing is fully aware of what they are doing.
If the finalization and signing of the will was not witnessed, it’s possible for the will to be contested.
A will may be thrown out if it is proven that its contents were falsified, modified, or that the signer was unaware of what they were signing when they put their name on it.
There’s also the possibility of “undue influence”. This means that the owner of the will was manipulated, usually by someone they trusted and assumed held their best interests. While this is a valid reason to contest a will, proving it can be difficult.
Whether you’re the one challenging or defending a will, you’ll need a lawyer experienced in probate and estate planning. The offices of Michael T. Edwards have extensive experience working with, creating, and validating wills. Our attorneys in Springfield, Ohio are here to help. Contact us today.