Ohio Wills & Estate Plans

by A.L. Kennedy
Ohio laws for wills are found in the Ohio Probate Code.

Ohio laws for wills are found in the Ohio Probate Code.

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Like all U.S. states, Ohio has a probate code that lists the laws that apply to Ohio wills. A will can be a valuable part of a larger estate plan. If you're considering making a will or estate plan in Ohio, you may want to talk to an Ohio attorney to ensure your will and estate plan meets the state requirements.

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Who May Make an Ohio Will

Ohio law requires that a testator, or person who makes a will, meet three legal requirements. First, the person must be at least 18 years old. Second, the person must be "of sound mind," or able to understand the function of the will or estate plan. Finally, the person must be "not under restraint"; that is, he must be giving away the property in his will to the beneficiaries he freely chooses, without being manipulated, tricked or lied to, according to the Ohio Probate Code.

How to Make an Ohio Will

Ohio law requires all written wills to be either handwritten or typed and signed by the testator and at least two witnesses. The witnesses must either have watched the testator sign the will or have heard the testator acknowledge that her signature is on the will. According to the Ohio Probate Code, a witness may watch or hear the testator acknowledge the signature via a telephone, videophone or other electronic communication.

Where to File the Will

During the testator's life, he may file the will with the probate court in the Ohio county where he lives, according to the Ohio Probate Code. As of 2010, the fee for filing the will in the probate court is $1. The court merely keeps the will safe until the testator dies. Once the testator has passed, the court may give the will only to the person the testator named to receive it. If no one was named or no one appears to accept the will, the Ohio probate court will wait two months, then open the will and notify the executor named in the will that it needs to be probated, according to the Ohio Probate Code.

Estate Plans

An Ohio will may be an Ohio resident's entire estate plan, or it may be just one part. According to the Ohio State University, trusts may also be used to transfer property when a testator dies. In addition, Ohio allows its residents to use living wills and power of attorney documents to designate a trusted person to make their decisions if they become incapacitated. The Ohio State University offers a number of reasons why a will should be included in an estate plan. For instance, a will allows its testator to name an executor and a guardian for any young children, choose who will receive her property, and set up a trust or other plan to pay for a chosen person's education or living expenses, without having to go through the often complicated steps of setting up a trust or other fund during the testator's lifetime.