Ohio courts have a presumption that a will is valid, representing the last wishes of the testator who wrote it. As such, courts generally tend to follow the provisions of a will precisely. There are some circumstances, however, under which certain interested parties may wish to challenge either an entire will or a provision contained within an otherwise valid one. Although it can be extremely difficult, it is possible to challenge a will in some cases.

There are some common reasons why people may challenge a will and through which they are more likely to be successful. If a person signed a will at a time when they did not have the mental capacity to do so or if there is evidence that the will was signed due to coercion by a manipulative person, the court may determine that it is invalid upon a successful challenge. If a will was signed without the requisite number of witnesses, it can also be declared invalid.

Sometimes, a will is admitted to the probate court, and another will is found. The later written will may be used to challenge an older one that was opened for probate, as the newer will trumps the older one. Upon a challenge, the court will allow all interested parties to file answers to it and will hold a hearing at which the parties may present evidence concerning the will contest. If the will is subsequently declared invalid, the court will proceed as if no will existed and inheritance will proceed according to the state’s intestacy laws.

After a person has written a will, it is important that they routinely review it and make any changes and updates as needed. By doing so, testators can help prevent will contests following their deaths. People may benefit by reviewing their will with their estate planning attorney regularly.

Source: Findlaw, “Reasons to Challenge a Will“, November 24, 2014

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