The Last Will and Testament is the most well-known of all probate documents.
This document is designed to identify who you wish to be in charge of settling your estate (the executor), including payment of debt and distribution of assets. However, as part of a comprehensive estate plan, it is only one of several critical tools at your disposal. Revocable living trusts and accounts Payable on Death or Transferable on Death, may provide for immediate distribution of your estate without the need to go through the probate court process.
But issues may also arise when named beneficiaries in Trusts, POD or TOD accounts, or other assets, conflict with a decedent’s Last Will and Testament.
Common grounds for contesting a Last Will and Testament in Ohio include:
Under O.R.S. § 5817.10, a Will is valid if it was properly executed under O.R.S. § 2107.03; the subject had the proper mental capacity and was not under duress or the victim of undue influence, and the execution of the Will was not the result of fraud or mistake. It’s important to note that Ohio law provides just three months to raise a challenge to the Will after the challenger has been notified an estate has entered the probate process. This is not a lot of time to build a case. Contacting an experienced Cleveland probate attorney as early in the process as possible is critical to protecting your rights.
Not everyone can challenge a Will. You must have a stake in the outcome in order to contest a Will under Ohio law. Proving your standing to the court is the first step. This typically means you are either a named or omitted beneficiary.
When a Will is successfully challenged, guidelines for distributing the estate Will revert to a previous legal Will, if available, or Will be distributed as an intestate estate under Ohio law. Either of these scenarios can provide additional challenges. In fact, thoroughly exploring these potential outcomes is one of the critical roles of your Cleveland probate attorney. Significant issues can arise as it relates to separation or divorce, death of potential heirs, or the presence of step children or spouses or partners of a legally unrecognized marriage.
Ohio’s law on intestate estates divides an estate among a decedent’s closest relatives, beginning with a legal spouse, and then proceeding to children, living parents, siblings and extended relatives.
The Law Offices of Daniel McGowan, LLC, represents clients in probate and estate matters throughout the Cleveland area, including Lakewood, Rocky River, Fairview Park, Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights, South Euclid, East Cleveland, Linndale, Brooklyn, Parma, Brook Park. Newburgh Heights, Cuyahoga Heights, Brooklyn Heights, Warrensville Heights, Maple Heights, Garfield Heights, Bratenahl and Euclid.
Call 216-242-6054 today for a free and confidential consultation.