A will is an important component of estate planning. If you have substantial assets or are concerned about how your property will be distributed following your death, you may want to consider drafting a will. In the state of Ohio, the guidelines for drafting a will are outlined in Chapter 2107 of the Revised Code.
You must meet certain basic requirements to legally draft a will in Ohio. According to Chapter 2107.02, you must be age 18 or older, of sound mind and memory and free of undue influence. To be of sound mind and memory, you must be aware of what it means to make a will, the extent of your estate, your relationship to your family and who you are giving your assets to.
While you can have your will prepared by an attorney, the state of Ohio also recognizes handwritten and oral wills. For a handwritten will to be valid, it must be signed and dated by you as well as two competent witnesses of legal age. An oral will is also considered valid if is dictated on your deathbed and transcribed to written form within ten days. The will must be transcribed by two competent witnesses of legal age who have no personal interest in the estate. The witnesses must also attest that the person dictating the will is of sound mind and memory.
In addition to outlining the distribution of your property, wills in Ohio can serve many functions. You can draft a will to appoint an executor to your estate and designate their powers, select guardians for minor children, establish a trust or life estate, plan for payment of debts, or provide for the allocation of estate taxes. You can use a will to explicitly disinherit children, but you may not disinherit a surviving spouse. A will cannot be used to direct the distribution of property or assets that are held jointly with right of survivorship or that have a designated beneficiary.
In Ohio, you may change or revoke your will at any time. If you only wish to make changes, you may add a codicil specifying the changes. This codicil must be witnessed by two competent witnesses of legal age. You can revoke your will by deliberately destroying the will, drafting a new valid will or adding a codicil that revokes the will. Any property granted to your spouse is automatically revoked if you become legally separated or divorced or if the marriage is annulled.
If you die without a will in Ohio, the courts will appoint an executor who will distribute your property according to state law. This can potentially cause problems for your surviving spouse or children, particularly if you owe a significant amount of debt or estate taxes at the time of your death.