How Do I Locate a Person's Last Will & Testament in Ohio?

By Salvatore Jackson

A will is a legal document that sets forth how a person wishes his assets to be distributed after his death. To be valid, an Ohio will must be submitted to an Ohio probate court. Once this occurs, it becomes a public record which can be accessed by any member of the public. No state agency in Ohio maintains a statewide database of all wills submitted to a probate court, so finding an Ohio will requires determining in which county the will has been submitted to a probate court.

A will is a legal document that sets forth how a person wishes his assets to be distributed after his death. To be valid, an Ohio will must be submitted to an Ohio probate court. Once this occurs, it becomes a public record which can be accessed by any member of the public. No state agency in Ohio maintains a statewide database of all wills submitted to a probate court, so finding an Ohio will requires determining in which county the will has been submitted to a probate court.

Step 1

Determine what Ohio county the will you are trying to locate has been filed in. Ohio probate law creates a distinction between real property, which only includes land owned by a person, and personal property, which includes all other types of property. Under Ohio probate law, a will may be validly admitted to probate in either the county where the decedent established residence or where the decedent owned property. If an Ohio will has been admitted to probate on behalf of a decedent, it will be in a county where the decedent was a resident or where the decedent owned land.

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Step 2

Visit the county probate office where the will may be located. The Franklin County Probate Court's website has a listing of the addresses, phone numbers and websites of probate courts in every Ohio county (see Resources). Most Ohio probate courts do not permit online searches of estate records. If your county does not have this information available online, visit the Ohio county probate court in person.

Step 3

Search for the decedent's will by first and last name.

Step 4

Pay any copying fee. Most Ohio counties charge a fee to make copies, and fees vary depenging on whether the copy is certified or non-certified. If you need a copy of the will for litigation purposes, you will likely need a certified copy. If you are looking for a copy of a will out of mere curiosity, you will not likely need a certified copy. While the cost of obtaining a copy varies by county, it will likely cost a couple of dollars per page for a certified copy and under a dollar per page for a non-certified copy.

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References

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