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Requirements for Creating a Will in Springfield, Ohio
A will is a document which sets forth how you want your property distributed upon your death, however, to be valid, your will must meet the legal requirements of the state of Ohio. Any person who is 18 or older and is of sound mind (and not being unduly influenced by another person) can make a legal will in Ohio. Barring certain exceptions, your will must be written and must have your signature included. “Written” means the will must be either handwritten or typewritten
There must be two or more competent witnesses who watch you sign your will—or hear you acknowledge that you signed the will. For those who do not have the physical capacity to write out their last will and testament by hand or even sign a will which is drafted by an attorney, Ohio law sets forth special provisions. These provisions include the fact that if you are hospitalized, have an injury which prevents you from signing your will or are simply too weak to sign your will, you are allowed to have someone sign on your behalf.
If this is the case, the person signing on your behalf must be in your presence, and you must have the ability to see and/or hear the person signing for you without the benefit of any type of communication technology (Internet, telephone, computers, etc.). If you are very sick and weak and are medically considered to be in your last sickness prior to your death, rendering you unable to write out your will by hand, the state of Ohio does allow you to dictate your will orally to another person to write out. If this is the case, however, your oral will must be subscribed by two competent, disinterested witnesses (those who have nothing to gain from your death) within ten days.
Because life changes happen, it is important that you regularly review your will to determine whether changes are necessary. Perhaps you have married since you made your will, had a child, gotten divorced, or there have been significant changes in your assets. Any type of change in your circumstances requires you look at your will to determine if a revision—or complete overhaul—is in order. Your will is not “set in stone,” so to speak, meaning it can be changed as many times as necessary after it is initially prepared and signed. The entire will may be changed, or only a part of the will may be changed through what is known as a codicil. Unless and until you revoke or revise your will, it remains valid.
Why Do You Need a Will?
According to AARP, only 4 in 10 American adults currently have a will or trust—even though most all adults realize the importance of estate planning. While older adults are more likely to have an estate plan than younger adults, in some ways, younger adults with minor children should feel a sense of urgency to have an estate plan even more than an older adult. A will can provide a guardian for minor children in the event of your death—an extremely important detail. Yet 78 percent of millennials—those between the ages of 18 and 36—do not have a will.
Interestingly, more people are proactive regarding a health care power of attorney than in other aspects of estate planning, such as wills and trusts. A health care power of attorney allows another person to make medical decisions for you should you become incapacitated. If you are wondering why so many people are putting off estate planning, the most common reasons given are “Haven’t gotten around to it,” and “Don’t have sufficient assets to justify an estate plan.”
Neither of these excuses are valid—an estate plan prepared by an experienced Ohio estate planning attorney will take little of your time, and the benefits are innumerable. For those who believe only the wealthy need estate plans—think again. Anyone with any level of assets—a home, a bank account, a car—can benefit from an estate plan. In short, everyone with any real or personal property should have a will—regardless of the value of that property—to ensure the property is distributed the way they want it to be distributed.
Can You Choose Who to Leave Your Assets to in Your Will?
This seems like an easy answer however, it is important to speak to your Ohio estate planning attorney about this issue. The laws of the state of Ohio grants a surviving spouse and minor children certain rights which cannot be negated by a will. Further, property held in the names of two persons may not automatically pass to the survivor when one dies. In fact, property which is held jointly with no right of survivorship requires the decedent’s portion of the property to pass through probate prior to distribution. Again, this is an issue which you should certainly discuss with an experienced Springfield, Ohio estate planning attorney.
Benefits of a Will
A will must go through probate, which is often considered the “downside” to a will. Probate means the contents of your will are available to the public, and that your heirs may have to wait longer to receive their inheritance than they would if your assets are in a revocable living trust. Further, should you die without a will (intestate), your property will be distributed according to Ohio laws—you will have no control over who receives your assets.
When you have a will prepared by a knowledgeable Springfield, Ohio estate planning attorney, you can name the person you want to manage the administration of your estate after your death, as well as a guardian for minor children. The Lovett & House Law Firm can help you prepare a comprehensive estate plan which includes a will. Our attorneys have years of experience helping those in Springfield, Ohio to prepare an estate plan which fits their specific needs. Contact Lovett & House today to get your estate plan started.