Wills and Estate Planning Guide for Ohio

In every jurisdiction, estate planning is a complex process. We have compiled some basic information to help with the process in Ohio.

Changing the Title to Property

In Ohio, property can have the title changed through a transfer under the direction of a will or a statute of descent which deals with the case where someone has died intestate meaning that they had no will or their will did not fully specify the details of the intended distribution. It can also be achieved at the direction of a beneficiary under the will.

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Having a Will

Having a will is important for a number of reasons:

1. Appoint executor of the will as well as a successor executor.
2. The will can also appoint guardians for minor children and successor guardians.
3. The will can appoint a property manager.
4. It can specify the arrangements for property distribution, a trust or life estate, the payment of debts and provide a waiver of the executor posting bond.
5. Provide for distribution of property in case of potential disclaimer by a beneficiary under the will.
6. Designate the powers granted to the executor.
7. Determine the allocation of estate taxes.
8. Reduce risk of will contests.

In the case of an intestacy, a court is under the law of ohio is empowered to appoint an administrator to administer the estate and disperse the estate. This process will usually occur in accordance with the determinations under the authority of the statutes of intestacy which does not always reflect the intentions of the deceased person. So it is almost always a good idea to make a will if you own any form of real or personal property. A licensed attorney can assist with this task.

Legal Rules for a Valid Will in Ohio

There are some basic rules codified in the laws of ohio which say what the requirements for a valid will are. Firstly, the person making the will needs to be older than eighteen years of age. TA will must be in writing and signed by the testator. It must be signed in the presence of at least two competent witnesses who must not be beneficiaries under the will and must also sign in the presence of each other. The testator must, in the presence of the witnesses, declare the instrument to be his or her last will and testament.

Changing a will

It is necessary to regularly revisit the terms of a will. Over the passage of time, changes in family structures and the profile of your assets can require changes to the identity of beneficiaries and their respective shares. It is within the discretion of a testator to change their will as often as they like so long as the requirements are followed and the person making the will has not lost the mental capacity to do so or is not being coerced into doing so. Traditionally, a codicil was used to change a will however in present times many attorneys simply ask their clients to execute an entirely new will.

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What is the extent of testamentary freedom?

Testamentry freedom is the extent to which a person may will that their property be distributed in a certain way. However, the law says that a person must bequest a certain amount to their surviving spouse but this type of legally guaranteed entitlement does not apply to children of disinherited testator. There are some ways in which a will can be secured against challenges by disgruntled heirs. In Ohio, if a judge has approved the terms of a will prior to the death of a testator, the will cannot be challenged subsequent to the passing of the testator.

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