» Last Will and Testament

Does Having a Will Prevent Probate in Ohio?

Will a will prevent probate? A surprisingly common misconception is the idea that having a valid will in place prevents one's estate from going through the probate process. In fact, leaving property to your loved ones via a last will and testament guarantees that at least a part of your estate will have to go through probate. Probate is the process of authenticating a will (if one exists) and distributing assets according to its terms.

What having a will does prevent is an estate being distributed according to Ohio's intestacy laws. These laws are intended to distribute the property of a deceased when there is no will or other valid estate plan. Intestacy laws try to approximate what most people would do with their property had they had an estate plan. Typically, people would provide first for their spouse and children, and then for more distant relatives. Like other laws that are intended to cover a wide range of people, intes… Read More

If You Die Without a Will, What Happens to Your Property?

You've heard countless times that you should have a will. But have you ever wondered what will happen to your property if you should die before you get around to making one?

The short answer is that the State of Ohio has a law, known as an intestacy statute, which dictates how your property will be distributed. Intestacy laws generally attempt to distribute your property as the state imagines most people would do if they had actually made an estate plan. It's a very "one size fits all" system, and like all things that are "one size fits all," it often doesn't fit a particular individual's needs very well.

How Ohio Intestacy Laws Work

A surviving spouse would inherit everything if the decedent left no children (or their lineal descendants, such as grandchildren or great-grandchildren). The surviving spouse would also take everything if there were children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, so long as those descendants were descendants of both the decedent and the surviving spouse.

From there it gets a little more complicated. People who are divorced or widowed often remarry, leaving a <… Read More

What Does it Mean to Probate a Will?

The word "probate" itself means to prove or validate. So, probating a will is the process of proving that the document is authentic, a true representation of the wishes of the person making the will, known as the testator. Even if a last will and testament truly represents the testator's wishes, however, it must also meet certain legal requirements to be valid and legally enforceable in Ohio.

A will generally does not have any legal effect until it is probated. Let's say a testator keeps his will in his desk drawer, and his wife, who knows the will's location, is named as personal representative. When the testator dies, the wife cannot simply take out the will and distribute the property as it dictates. The Ohio probate court for the county in which the deceased testator lived must first probate the will, then oversee the distribution of assets. If a testator lived outside of Ohio, but owned real property in Ohio, his or her will must be probated in Ohio as well as the home state.

Why Must Wills Be Probated?

W… Read More