What is a Last Will and Testament


A Ohio Last Will and Testament, when prepared and executed properly by a person who is an adult of sound mind with legal responsibility for his- or herself, is a formal document that specifies how their assets or estate will be managed and distributed after their death. The person who dies is formally referred to as the decedent. If the decedent has minor children, the Last Will and Testament may also be used to designate who they want to care for their children and who they wish to handle their childrenís inheritance/finances until each child comes of age (usually 18, but you can designate a different age) to handle their finances on their own.

In a Last Will and Testament, the decedent usually also names a personal representativeóor co-personal representatives (two or more persons acting together in this capacity)óto manage the matters of the estate. The personal representative is the person who gathers all of the information about the decedentís debts and assets, pays outstanding debts using the assets on behalf of the estate, and ensures that the decedentís property is distributed as specified in the Will, so this is a job with a lot of responsibility, and the personal representative selected is usually someone the decedent really trusts to follow through on the details and with his or her wishes.

If a person dies without having a valid Last Will and Testament (which usuallyóin most statesómeans it must be properly witnessed, as wellónot just signed), someone will usually be appointed by the court to be the personal representative and will pay the decedentís debts, liquidizing assets as necessary to do so. Then the remaining assets will be distributed among the decedentís heirs according to the laws of the state the decedent lived in.

In some states, if one spouse dies leaving behind a husband or wife, that living spouse will inherit all of the decedentís property in the absence of a Last Will and Testament stating to the contrary. In other cases, the decedent may have specified a particular beneficiary to inherit a life insurance policy, retirement account, or other asset, and that beneficiary designation will dictate who receives those assets in the absence of a Ohio Last Will and Testament.

The important thing to note is that anyone who wishes to designate how their assets will be distributed after their death should prepare and properly execute a Last Will and Testament to ensure their wishes are known and honored. If they donít, they may be leaving it up to chance, the laws of the state in which they reside at the time of their death, or a court of law as to how their final affairs will be settled.  Ohio free information on last will and testament forms.

Legal Requirements for Last Wills in Ohio

The last will gives a person the right to dispose of their property after death as they would like to do it. A testament is not an obligatory document since the laws of Ohio provide residents with general instruction on the inheritance of the deceasedís property. However, a person may have their own point of view on this matter and want to distribute the shares of their estate independently. To do this, they need a will as an official form of the terms of property inheritance.

A testator determines the heirs and the property shares that they would like to allocate between them. Unlike the general law of Ohio, a last will allows distributing shares of an estate according to the personal desire of the testator. The most frequent topics of the document are the following:

  • Bequest of real estate (apartments, houses, or land)

  • Inheritance of movable property (cars, securities, money, jewelry)

  • Appointment of a guardian for testatorís minor children

  • Regulations on the pet care

  • Money transfer for charitable purposes.

As you can see, a last will is intended to describe in detail the shares of the estate to be inherited. The document allows a testator to provide in advance all the details of the distribution of property and not to entrust it to the court.

Form of a Testament and Change of a Last Will

The best form of a will is a written document drawn up by a testator themselves. The court also accepts other forms of wills that differ from it, such as a handwritten document. An oral testament, written down from the words of the testator and certified by witnesses, is also considered to be the official form.

Please note that an oral will is valid only if the testator is seriously ill. The testatorís physical disability is the only reason for drawing up a document by the hand of another person from their words. The creator of the document must be in their right mind and memory.

Regardless of the form, a last will goes through a confirmation procedure in the court to prove the authenticity of the document. After the favorable court decision, a paper comes into force, and heirs can dispose of the property.

General Inheritance Rules and Will Exceptions

If the deceased left no will, the living spouse inherits all their property in Ohio. This estate is distributed between the spouse and the descendants of the deceased if any. If the deceased left no will, the living spouse inherits all their property in Ohio. The deceasedís estate is distributed among the spouse, parents, and descendants if any. In case there are no immediate relatives, the inheritance passes to the sisters, brothers, grandparents of the deceased.

A last will gives a person the opportunity to change these rules, but not completely. The Ohio law provides special rules for the inheritance of the following parts of the property:

  • Joint ownership with the title of inheritance

  • Accruals on the pension account and insurance

  • The living spouseís share if they are not specified in the will.

A testament does not cover these parts of the deceasedís estate. So, even if a testator mentioned pension accruals in the will, this share is still distributed according to the general Ohio law.



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