A family gathers in a wooden paneled sitting room. A man enters stage left dressed in somber attire. He pulls an envelope from his left breast pocket, breaks the seal and reads out what is written on the paper inside. A collective gasp, a woman faints, the light lingers on the smug face of one mustached man and then dims as the curtain closes.
Reading a will is not as dramatic in real life as in the theater; there is no gathering of family members, no communal opening of an envelope. Instead, copies of the will are sent to the individuals involved. However, discovering the contents of the will can still be a shock.
If a will is not as you expected, you may want to contest it. Not everyone can contest a will; to do so, you need what is called “standing.” Were you, or should you have been, named on the will? Would you have inherited something if there was no will? If you can answer yes to one of these questions, then it means you may have the standing to contest the will.
These are some of the reasons to contest a will:
- The will was not duly signed and witnessed: Ohio law requires a will to be signed in front of two witnesses. They then have to sign it in front of you.
- The person did not have the capacity to sign: If someone was mentally incapable of signing a will, it might be invalid, although it is hard to prove.
- There is another will, signed at a later date: Just as in the theater, occasionally someone else appears with a more recent version of the will of which no one knew.
- The will is fraudulent, forged or signed under duress: This will require careful investigation by an attorney if you are to prove it.
Most wills go uncontested, but if you do wish to contest a will in Ohio, you need to contact an attorney who works in estate litigation to undertake the thorough legal investigation required.