What Is Probate in Ohio?
Probate is a court-supervised legal process that involves the administration of assets previously owned by a deceased person. The decedent’s assets, property, money, and possessions are referred to as their “estate.” The primary purpose of the probate process is to confirm that the deceased person’s will is valid and ensure that all expenses and taxes are paid before distributing the decedent’s assets to the intended beneficiaries. The probate court also approves the appointment of the executor of the estate.
During the probate process, assets are distributed to the beneficiaries according to the decedent’s wishes if the decedent leaves behind a will. However, if there is no will, assets are distributed according to Ohio’s laws of intestate succession.
The parties involved in probate may have grounds to challenge the validity of the will or start other types of probate disputes. Probate proceedings take place in the probate court of the county in which the deceased person lived prior to their death.
Common Probate Disputes
There are various types of disputes that may arise during the probate process in Ohio. Common types of disputes include but are not limited to:
- Disagreements between the beneficiaries. Often, the decedent’s heirs believe that the distribution of assets is unfair. They believe that they are entitled to more. However, the mere dissatisfaction with the way the decedent’s assets were distributed does not necessarily give merits for a probate dispute.
- The will does not comply with state law. If the will does not comply with the formalities and procedural requirements set forth by state law, the document may be declared invalid.
- There is a conflicting will. Sometimes, a decedent may have more than one will they created during their lifetime. If a probate court is reviewing an outdated will that was replaced by a new one, parties involved in the probate process can challenge the validity of the will.
- Undue influence. If the testator (the person who created the will) was pressured or coerced into drafting or changing a will to benefit a particular person, other heirs might have grounds to contest the will.
- Mental incapacity. Under Ohio law, the testator must be of sound mind when creating and executing a will. If the testator lacked mental capacity when the will was executed, the validity of the will could be contested in a probate dispute.
- Breach of fiduciary duties. The executor – who is also known as the personal representative of the estate – must act in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the decedent’s will. Failure to do so may result in a breach of fiduciary duty claims.
Probate Dispute Process
Often, probate disputes turn into drawn-out, costly, and contentious battles that involve many parties. The probate dispute process involves the following steps:
- Consulting with a probate dispute attorney. Consider speaking with an experienced attorney to explore your legal options and learn about the possible outcomes of the probate dispute process.
- Filing a complaint in the probate court. The complaint notifies the court of the dispute.
- Presenting the case to the court. Then, the complainant presents their case and supporting evidence to the court.
- The court issues the decision. Once the court reviews the presented complaint and supporting evidence, it will issue the decision.
At StachlerHarmon Attorneys at Law, our probate dispute attorneys have assisted clients in Dayton, Ohio, with filing and defending complaints. We handle all types of probate disputes, including those involving contested wills, breach of fiduciary duty claims, and disagreements over asset distribution, among others.