Wills in Ohio

by Beverly Bird
    Witnesses to your will must testify that it is yours before it can enter probate.

    Witnesses to your will must testify that it is yours before it can enter probate.

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    You can make a will in Ohio if you are older than 18 years of age, though there are exceptions for minors who marry before the age of 18. You must also be of sound mind and have an understanding of what you are doing. Ohio accepts wills in a variety of formats.

    Accepted Formats

    You can handwrite your will in Ohio or have it printed. If it is in your own handwriting, called a holographic will, no witnesses are required. You must sign it at the end of the document. If you can’t sign your printed will, someone else can do so as long as witnesses hear you acknowledge that the person has done it at your request. Ohio also accepts oral wills, called nuncupative or deathbed wills. Two witnesses are required, and you must specifically tell them that you want them to hear your will. They then have to put the will in writing for you within 10 days.

    Witness Requirements

    Two witnesses are also required for printed wills. They must be at least 18 years old and must see you sign it if you are able. You cannot have left either of them anything in your will. If you did, you must have a third witness or your will is going to be invalid. Alternatively, if your beneficiary witness is a close relative and would have received a part of your estate if you had died without a will, she can take that portion instead of what you bequeathed her. In that case, she would be an acceptable witness.

    Elective Share Provisions

    If you leave your spouse less in your will than he would have received if you had died without one, he can choose to accept what is called an elective share instead. In Ohio, this elective share is one-third to half of your estate depending on whether or not you have children. However, your children do not have a right to an elective share. You can disinherit your children in Ohio, but speak to an attorney to make sure you have done it properly in order for your wishes to be upheld after your death.

    Admittance to Probate

    Ohio does not accept self-proved wills, a method of attaching an additional sworn statement to your will attesting that it is your own and that you did not make it under duress. Your witnesses will have to testify after your death that they watched you sign the will and that it is yours. It will then be admitted to probate if it meets all other requirements. If it does not meet requirements and is not admitted to probate, Ohio treats your estate as though you had died without a will. However, the state does allow you to submit your own will for probate before your death so you can rest assured that it qualifies. If you do this, no one can contest it after your death, either.

    About the Author

    Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.

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