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Can a spouse challenge a will that disinherits them in Ohio?

On Behalf of | Oct 16, 2023 | Estate Planning |

Some Ohio estates make their way through probate court without any issues. An individual clearly describes what should happen with their property in their will, and the person serving as the personal representative of their estate is able to follow those instructions without any issues. 

Other times, there are questions about the validity of the documents. Sometimes, family members challenge or contest wills in probate court because they have concerns about the terms included in those documents. 

Could a spouse who was left out or actively disinherited in an estate plan contest the will in Ohio probate court? 

Spouses have a statutory right of inheritance

Contrary to what people sometimes think, testators do not have the authority to do literally whatever they want with their resources when they die. They do have an obligation to abide by Ohio’s laws. Spouses generally have a very strong right of inheritance

If someone dies without a will and has no children, their spouse will receive all of their property. Even if they leave a will, their spouse may be able to challenge it to ensure they receive an appropriate portion of the estate. A spouse who wants to assert their rights by countering the terms of the will can receive one or two vehicles from the estate, a $40,000 allowance for support and either half or one-third of the net estate depending on the children set to inherit from the estate. 

Situations involving testamentary documents that technically violate state law could very easily lead to probate litigation. Understanding which family members have a right of inheritance could help people weigh their options during the probate process.

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