If you are an adult in Kettering, Ohio—or anywhere else in the United States—the chances that you have a will and other estate planning documents in place are not all that high. Oddly enough, we work throughout our lives to provide for our loved ones, yet failing to plan for our demise can leave those same loved ones with a huge mess to clean up. A 2016 Harris Poll found that a staggering 64 percent of American adults don’t have a will. The most common reasons for this omission were “don’t need one” or “just haven’t gotten around to it.”
Since the entire purpose of a will is to document your wishes. These wishes can include who you want your assets to go to, if you have minor children, who you want as their guardian, and who you want to make decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated (often called a living will). In addition to having no will—the biggest mistake—the following are additional common mistakes many of us make:
- Failure to update your will. If you have taken the leap and had a will prepared, remember wills must be updated occasionally, particularly if you have a major life change, such as a divorce, a birth or a death.
- Overlooking the need for a trust. While your will accounts for the division of your assets when you die, a trust can allow you to enable restrictions on the timing of that asset distribution.
- Failure to have realistic expectations regarding your heirs. If you have children who do not yet have the financial and/or emotional capacity to handle assets responsibly, you may need to make additional provisions in your will which will allow a professional to supervise those assets.
- Choosing a friend or relative as executor of your will. First of all, if these people are your contemporaries, they may not realistically outlive you. Further, they may not be willing, or may not have the time or skills necessary to handle the executor responsibilities.
Who Should Have a Will?
So, who, in Kettering, Ohio, should have a will? Every single adult! Almost everyone owns something, even if that “something” is no more than a vehicle and whatever is in your bank account. A will is especially important for those in high-risk jobs, such as firefighters, police officers, soldiers and the elderly, as well as for those with minor children. So, virtually every adult in Kettering, Ohio who has any personal property can benefit from having a will.
What Does a Kettering, Ohio Will Accomplish?
Aside from the fact that having an experienced Kettering, Ohio estate planning attorney prepare your will is not expensive, and really does not take all that much of your time to accomplish, having a will can also do the following:
- Give you peace of mind, knowing your loved ones will be taken care of;
- Appoint the guardian of your choice for your minor children;
- Minimize the amount of taxes your estate will owe;
- Avoid a lengthy probate process;
- Allow you to make gifts and donations;
- Disinherit those you do not want to inherit your assets, and
- Avoid legal challenges.
Remember, a will can always be changed as your life circumstances change, and, in fact, you will want to update your will frequently to reflect such life changes as a divorce, a birth or a death.
What is Required for a Valid Kettering, Ohio Will?
For a will to be valid in the state of Ohio, you must be at least 18 years old and you must be of sound mind. Further, your will must be in writing (typed or handwritten), properly signed by you, and witnessed by two people who are not related to you and will not inherit anything upon your death. Finally, you must not be under the undue influence of any other person when your will is written, or there could be challenges to the will after your death. Under certain circumstances, an oral can also be valid in the state of Ohio.
What if You Don’t Have a Will?
If you continue to procrastinate on having a will prepared, the state of Ohio will determine how your assets will be divided, based on whether you have a spouse, children with that spouse, children from a prior relationship or living parents or siblings. The choices the state may make could well be choices you would never make—and would not be happy with. To avoid the added stress on your loved ones during a time that will already be emotional, consider speaking to a Kettering, Ohio estate planning lawyer to help you create a basic will before it is too late. The experienced estate planning attorneys at Lovett & House Co., LPA can help you prepare an estate plan that works for you, and can answer any questions you may have about your will and other estate planning documents.