Do I need a Will?
A Last Will and Testament is one of the most important legal documents a person can create during his or her lifetime. When a person dies with a Will they are said to have died “testate” and the terms and conditions of the Will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed. If a person dies without a Will they are said to have died “intestate” and estate laws will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed. The costs of dying “intestate” can be significantly more than having a Will that is well thought-out. For instance, with a Will you can nominate the person you want to serve as the Executor of your estate, and you can waive any bond for your executor, thereby saving hundreds of dollars. The cost of not having a Will means that any interested person over the age of eighteen can apply to be your Executor / Administrator, often times leading to multiple family members applying. Additionally, without a Will, the Executor / Administrator will have to seek the Court’s approval for many decisions that must be made, thereby increasing the costs significantly.
Requirements for a Valid Ohio Will:
The validity of an Ohio Will is codified in Ohio Revised Code, Title 21, Sections 2107.02 through 2107.15, which states in relevant part:
1. Any person eighteen (18) years of age, or a minor lawfully married, and of sound mind may make a Will. (See: Section 2107.02) “Sound mind” generally means someone who has not been deemed incompetent in a prior legal proceeding.
2. A Will must be in writing, signed by the testator and by two witnesses. If the testator cannot physically sign his name he may direct a witness or another party to do so. Each witness must sign the Will in the testator’s presence. (See: Section 2107.03)
3. No person under eighteen (18) years of age shall witness a Will. (See Section 2107.06) Although, beneficiaries under the Will may sign as witnesses, it is not recommended because it may adversely affect the beneficiary’s inheritance under the Will. It is recommended that only “disinterested individuals” (not a beneficiary in the Will) witness the Will. Ohio does not currently allow a Will to be self-proven.
Ohio Will Contests:
Sometimes the validity of a person’s Will becomes an issue. The validity of a Will can be challenged when it is believed that the testator (the person whose Will is in dispute) was coerced, under duress or was not legally competent to make the Will. Will contests can result in protracted litigation and often times depletes the estate’s assets, not to mention, strain family relationships. One way testators can dissuade a beneficiary from filing a Will contest is to have a “no contest” in the Will to automatically divest any beneficiary that files a Will contest. Should you be facing a Will contest, or think a Will was not properly entered into, please contact Winkler Legal Services, LLC to further discuss your situation.