In the majority of cases, wills are accepted as valid and administered to the beneficiaries without much of a hitch. However, there are cases where the will is contested, which leads to parties fighting over the inclusion or exclusion of terms in a complex legal process called probate.
If you are engaged in a dispute about a will, you will likely need an Akron contested will attorney to get the outcome you are fighting for.
At Slater & Zurz, we listen closely to your needs and draw on our years of experience to help ensure that your interests are fully represented in the sometimes complicated will contestation process. Call (330) 762-0700 to speak with an experienced Akron contested will attorney about your case.
Behind every contested will is at least one party who is unsatisfied with the terms contained in the document. In some cases, multiple unsatisfied parties join together to contest will provisions.
However, as any contested will lawyer will tell you, dissatisfaction is not enough to legally contest a will with any hopes of winning. There must be a defect in the will or in the process in which it was completed for a probate judge to agree to any change.
Additionally, not just anyone may contest a will. Ohio law requires anyone contesting the will to have a standing, which in this case means they will benefit financially if the contestation is settled in their favor. In many cases, contesting parties include:
- Other family-member heirs
- Other parties with a demonstrable financial interest
Once it has been established that you have standing, your Akron contested will lawyer will then present the grounds for your dispute.
It may be that the testator (the person who created the will) lacked the legal capacity to create the will in question. If this is the case, then the will is invalid.
According to Ohio law, testators must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind and memory to legally draft a will. A will created by a person diagnosed with a severe mental illness will likely be void.
Additionally, extreme states of drunkenness or drug intoxication can incapacitate a testator to the point of invalidating the will they create while under the influence.
Trickery in the world of wills usually takes the form of fraud or forgery. Fraud involves deceiving the testator in some way, so they change the will for the benefit of the fraudster.
For instance, a person may tell the testator that a currently living family member has passed away to induce the testator to disburse their assets in a way that benefits the deceiver. Or a fraudster may misrepresent the nature of certain documents to the testator, resulting in them signing something different than they believe.
Forgery is actually a type of fraud, but fraud is not always forgery. Forgery deals directly with the alteration of documents. Cases of this nature may take the form of:
- Forged signatures
- Forged dates
- The addition of names or provisions
- The omission of names or provisions
If you are party to a will where fraud or forgery is being discussed, your rights as an interested party may be in jeopardy. Our lawyer for contested wills at Slater & Zurz will fight to make sure your interests are preserved and work hard for a timely resolution of your case.
For a will to be valid, the testator must have created it freely, without undue influence, or under duress. A testator cannot be physically forced to create and sign a will. Nor can they be manipulated with threats and other similar forms of coercion.
Unfortunately, these cases do occur and can lead to rightful heirs losing out on what the deceased intended for them to have.
The procedural law surrounding wills exists to ensure the integrity of the inheritance process. For this reason, violating certain provisions controlling will creation is penalized harshly. In many cases, failure to abide by procedural mandates and filing requirements can lead to the outright invalidation of a will.
For example, if the will signing was not witnessed properly, the will may be ruled invalid. Unsigned wills are also common and commonly lead to wills being declared invalid. Without a contested will lawyer at the helm, these errors may go unnoticed.
Whatever the reason for the contestation of the will, it is important to understand what is at stake during the process. Things you have always believed were yours to inherit may suddenly be at risk of going to someone else.
You would never have to worry about these things in an ideal world. Unfortunately, issues arise that can threaten your future livelihood and the desires of the person who passed away. When they do, hiring an attorney is the optimal next step to preserving your interests.
Our legal team at Slater & Zurz has a proven track record of successfully representing clients in the Akron area. When you choose our firm to handle your legal affairs, you get the peace of mind that only an experienced law firm can provide.
No one wants to deal with probate issues during their time of mourning. But when you work with a seasoned contested will attorney, they can handle the problems for you, giving you time to process your loss.
No matter how simple or complex your situation may be, you deserve to have your financial and sentimental interests safeguarded by a professional who understands the risks involved in will contestation proceedings.
This is what our Akron contested will lawyer can do for you:
- File the appropriate paperwork in a timely manner
- Collect, analyze, and present evidence demonstrating your grounds for contesting the will
- Attend hearings and meetings necessary to the contestation process
- Keep you informed and educated on the progress of your case
- Always be available for your questions and concerns
Whether you are contesting a provision or are fighting against one, we can help. Join thousands of satisfied clients and choose Slater & Zurz to represent your case.
In the event of any will dispute, it is important to take appropriate steps early on to preserve your interests. Even before a will is filed in probate, you can make important moves that will help guarantee you receive what you deserve, such as consulting with an attorney familiar with probate law and procedure.
If you seek to contest a will, you have three months to contest it once it has been filed with the probate court. Apart from this important time regulation, time-sensitive filing requirements can harm or invalidate a case if not complied with.
Once you reach out to a competent attorney for contested wills, you will not have to worry about these rules. But the longer you wait, the higher the chance you run afoul of an important procedural requirement.
Gathering and preparing important paperwork and documentation will greatly help your attorney for contested wills in moving forward with your case. Before going to your first consultation, it would be helpful to collect and organize:
- Your official identification
- A complete copy of the will
- Marriage certificates for spouses
- Documents or other evidence that support your position (evidence of mental incapacitation, fraud, etc.).
While scheduling your appointment, your Akron contested will lawyer may also ask you to bring in other relevant paperwork, such as a birth certificate or financial documents. Locating them and having them ready will keep the process on track and allow your lawyer in Akron to act more swiftly in handling your case.
If a person with standing wants to contest a will before probate, they will be responsible for paying their attorney’s fees and other related court costs. If a will’s beneficiaries are defending a will provision, the beneficiary is also responsible for their own attorney’s fees.
However, the executor, when acting in the best interests of the estate, may recoup attorney’s fees for the litigation.
Contested wills are litigated in probate court. As such, you need a lawyer in Akron who has experience working with wills in the probate setting. You also need a seasoned litigator who knows how to fight for their clients.
Contested wills are commonly heated issues, and all interested parties may spend significant resources on legal representation during the process. The attorney you choose to represent you should have a demonstrable history of wins for their clients.
Why Choose Slater & Zurz
At Slater & Zurz, our Probate lawyers have provided effective and caring legal services to the people of Akron and throughout Ohio for over 30 years. We win because we listen to our clients and never back down from the fights we take on, no matter how complex or contentious they may be. Your interests are what matter most to us.
Call Slater & Zurz today at (330) 762-0700. An experienced lawyer for contested wills is ready to speak with you and discuss your options for dealing with a contested will.