Do I Need a Will?

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Almost everybody has experienced the passing of a loved one. This can be one of the most challenging experiences in a person’s life. Having a properly drafted will can ensure that your wishes are followed and dramatically reduce the stress and pressure of loved ones after you pass. Wills are an important aspect of an estate plan and it is imperative to follow specific instructions while creating it to ensure its validity.

What is a Will?

A will is a document that sets forth the framework for how a person wishes to have their probate property distributed upon death. This can be a very powerful estate planning tool which takes a large burden off of your loved ones after you are gone. There can be multiple uses for a will such as: deciding who will inherit your property; choosing an executor to handle your estate; choosing a guardian for your children; and choosing someone to manage your children’s property. If you pass away without a will, then your property will be distributed according to Ohio’s intestacy law which will give your property to your closest relatives beginning with your spouse and children and span out to more distant relatives such as siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts, etc. This can lead to familial disputes and extended probate litigation. Simply put, no one would want a court to make all of these decisions without the direction of your final wishes.

How Do I Make A Valid Will?

Under Section 2107.02, 2107.03 and 5817.10 of the Ohio Revised Code, there are multiple requirements for the creation of a will (barring very specific exemptions that go beyond the context of this blog) and its declaration of validity, which are the following:

  1. Be at least eighteen years of age or older, of sound mind and memory, and not under restraint.
  2. Signed at the end by the testator (creator of the will) or by some other person in the testator’s conscious presence and at the testator’s express discretion.
  3. Attested and subscribed in the conscious presence of the testator, by two or more competent witnesses, who saw the testator subscribe, or heard the testator acknowledge the testator’s signature.
  4. The testator has requisite testamentary capacity, was free from undue influence, and was not under restraint or duress.
  5. The will was not the result of fraud or mistake.

What Should I Do Now?

Having an updated will is essential to ensure that your wishes are followed and to lessen the stress of loved ones after passing away. Wills are very personal and generally need to be tailored to each person’s unique circumstances. It can be complicated to create a valid will and it is recommended to consult with a licensed attorney that practices estate planning. If you or a loved one are contemplating updating your estate plan, please give The Sauter Law Firm a call and set up a free consultation at 513-341-5078.