RC 2107.71 states that any interested party may file a civil action in the Probate Court to contest the validity of a will (including a codicil) that has been admitted to probate and that also (a) has not been previously declared valid through a pre-death validity proceeding, and (b) was thereafter retained for safekeeping by the court until admitted to probate.
There can be no contest in Ohio of a will executed and proved according to the law of another state or foreign country. (RC 2107.48)
The contesting party has the burden of proof to establish by a preponderance of the evidence the basis of the claim, to wit; either that the testator was mentally incompetent to write a will, the testator was subject to undue influence in the preparation of the will, the instrument admitted to probate was revoked, or is a forgery. This burden shifts from the contestant only if the contest involves a will in which there was an attorney-client relationship between maker of the will and the attorney, the attorney is a beneficiary in the will, the attorney actively participated in the preparation of the will, and was not related by blood or marriage to the maker.
A Will Contest must be filed within three months after the filing of the Certificate (see RC 2107.19(A)(3)) that all interested persons were given or waived notice of the admission of the will to probate. The filing of the Certificate commences the running of the three month filing deadline. The passage of the deadline without the commencement of a will contest is forever binding, except as to persons under a legal disability, and as to them four months after removal of the disability.
The necessary parties to the Complaint are set forth in RC 2107.73.
During the Will Contest proceeding the powers of the fiduciary are limited to those set forth in RC 2113.21 and the Court may require additional bond or security, as it determines is proper.
Upon proper and timely request the issues in a Will Contest will be determined by a jury. The civil rules of procedure apply to the proceedings, except as otherwise provided in the probate statutes.
Items Necessary to File a Will Contest:
- Prepare a Complaint joining all necessary parties and file it in the county where the will or codicil was admitted to probate;
- File written request for service and sufficient copies of the complaint for each party required to be served; and
- The base court cost deposit is one hundred sixty dollars ($160.00).