Having a last will and testament (often referred to as a “will”) is an extremely important estate planning tool. It protects your assets, allows you to provide for loved ones, and decreases the risk of disagreements between family members over how your estate should be administered. A will gives you control of your financial affairs even after your death.
Losing a loved one is a traumatic and emotional time for anyone. You need to protect your loved ones from any further stress, anxiety, and frustration by preparing a will and other estate planning documents now while there is still time.
What does intestate mean?
If you die in Ohio without a will, the law considers you to have died intestate. In other words, you did not leave a written, legal document outlining how your property should be distributed upon your death. Dying intestate has several negative consequences for your loved ones.
Ohio Intestate Laws Apply
If you die without a valid will, Ohio intestacy laws will decide how your property will be distributed and who will receive your property. The “descent and distribution” section of the intestate statute favors family members and heirs that are closely related to you. In other words, your spouse would be the first heir; however, if you have children, your children inherit a portion of your estate with your spouse.
If the children are minors, then a Guardianship or other restrictive arrangement controlled and supervised by the probate court would tie up the youngster’s inheritance until they are 18, then they would get the inheritance free of restrictions. Most of us would not be comfortable knowing someone this young could do whatever they want with their inheritance at that age. These arrangements by the court can be expensive and time consuming. Moreover, if your children are deceased, any of their children will inherit with your spouse. The list of descent is quite long and can be complex depending on the situation. The best way to avoid this is to have a will.
The State Could Receive Your Property
If you die without a valid will and you have no surviving heirs, your property is transferred to the state. Friends and charities are not considered heirs and they will not be eligible to receive your property.
The Person Who You Want to Administer Your Estate May Not be Appointed
When you have a will, you choose who will administer your estate after your death; without one, the Ohio Probate Court appoints an administrator for your estate. Intestate law governs who should be appointed to administer the estate; therefore, it may or may not be the person who you want making decisions and handling your affairs.
Your Children Will Receive Their Inheritance at an Early Age
If you die intestate, you cannot appoint a guardian or trustee for your children. If your spouse is not living, the state will decide who cares for your children and who manages your children’s inheritance while they are minors. Upon their eighteenth birthday, your children will receive their entire inheritance.
There are many more reasons why dying intestate in Ohio is an unwise decisions. Our attorneys can discuss other reasons specific to your situation.
Contact an Experienced Ohio Estate Planning Attorney for More Information
If you have questions about protecting your assets and providing for your loved ones, contact the probate attorneys of Lovett & House Co., LPA. It is never too soon to begin estate planning. Our estate planning attorneys will help you develop an estate plan to protect your assets, provide for your loved ones, and ensure that your final wishes are carried out after death.