The Goldberg Law Firm Co., LPA

The Goldberg Law Firm Co., LPA

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Ohio Estate Litigation Lawyers

Will contests and estate disputes

When the loss of a loved one creates conflict,
we can resolve disputes and preserve legacies

If a loved one has died, the administration of the estate can be a trying experience. A will contest or estate dispute can increase the stress of losing a loved one on you and those close to you.

Whether it’s a family heirloom that has sentimental value or the equitable distribution of property, family members and friends may disagree on the way an estate is distributed. These conflicts can create tensions, rifts, and sometimes result in lawsuits.

If you believe that a will does not express the true intent of a loved one or that the will is in someway invalid, you have the right to seek the court’s intervention to modify or set aside that will.

Steven M. Goldberg has been guiding clients through the legal complexities and emotional distress of probate litigation since 1989. He has the legal experience, track record and negotiating skills to effectively represent your claim and obtain a fair resolution for you. Whether you are a beneficiary challenging the execution or validity of a will or an executor being accused of some mistake or wrong doing, we can help.

It’s not easy to sit in a room with someone with whom there is emotional conflict. We are counselors as well as advocates. We advise as well as represent. Our clients deserve to know what we do, why we do it, and how it benefits them.

When a will is challenged in state probate court, it can be invalidated for a number of reasons, including:

Lack of capacity. A valid will requires that the decedent (the person who has died) possessed “testamentary capacity” – the mental competency to execute a will at the time the will was signed and witnessed. Challenging a will on the basis of capacity requires that the decedent did not have the necessary mental capacity to understand the nature or extent of the property or the identity of the heirs when the will was created.

Undue influence. If the decedent did not make the will of free choice due to the improper influence of another person, the will may be challenged. Undue influence typically involves the accusation that a trusted friend, relative or caregiver procures a new will that reflects his or her own desires rather than those of the testator (person who has made a will).

Fraud, mistake or forgery. A will can be challenged if it pages have been inserted after it was signed or if the decedent’s signature is forged. The testator must be over 18 years of age. The will must be in writing and signed in the presence of at least two competent witnesses who are not beneficiaries under the will. If the will was not properly drafted, signed or witnessed, according to the requirements of Ohio law, the will can be challenged as invalid.

But, don’t wait to talk to us.

There are deadlines for filing your challenge. In most cases, once the will is accepted into probate in Ohio, you have only three months to contest it. Because many variables can affect circumstances and the time allowed to contest a will, it is important to consult us promptly.

Steven M. Goldberg is on your side every step of the way. We know the courts and procedures in Ohio and have strong networks nationwide. If you need more information and additional resources, keep reading.

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Five tips for avoiding fights over your estate

The laws surrounding will disputes are complicated, and litigation can be lengthy and expensive. The following are some steps that may make a will contest less likely:

  1. Prepare a will, and keep it updated.
    • The time to start your estate plan is when it is clear that you are able to make informed decisions and understand the consequences of those decisions. Sign your will in the presence of a lawyer and two witnesses.
  2. Avoid surprises. Consider giving broad outlines of how you plan to distribute your property while you are still alive. Letting loved ones know what you have done and your reasons why will eliminate big surprises.
  3. Talk to your lawyer privately. If you consult a lawyer about estate planning, you need to feel free to express your honest wishes, whatever they are, even if they might displease someone. Family members should not be present when you discuss the will with your attorney or when you sign it.
  4. Give power to the right people. Choose your executor carefully. Pick someone who is honest, organized and a good communicator – not necessary your eldest child. Give someone you trust “power of attorney” – not co-owner of your financial assets. That way, the person has legal right to act only in your best interest but not automatically inherit the money in your account after your death.
  5. Provide guidance on items of sentimental value. Give some thought to family jewelry, photos, antiques, and other items that are likely to have sentimental value to your surviving family members and provide instructions on how and to whom items are distributed.

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For an evaluation of your case, contact the Goldberg Law Firm today.