Ohio Laws on Wills

By Holly Cameron

Ohio laws on wills are set out in Chapter 2107 of Title 21 of the Ohio revised code. A will is a legal document that sets out an individual’s wishes regarding his property and family after his death. For a will to be valid, the individual -- known in this context as a testator -- must be at least 18 years old, and be of sound mind and free to make his own decisions.

Writing a Will

According to Chapter 2107.03, Ohio wills should be either handwritten or typewritten. The testator must sign the will or instruct another competent person to sign on his behalf. At least two witnesses over the age of 18 must be present when the testator either signs the will, or acknowledges his signature. An oral will may be valid insofar as it relates to personal property and not real estate, provided that the will is made while the testator is in the last days of sickness. Oral wills must also be witnessed by two individuals who are not beneficiaries.

Purpose of a Will

The main purpose of a will is to allocate the testator’s property after her death. This includes all real estate, bank accounts and personal belongings. A will may also include provisions for guardianship of any minor children. The testator also usually appoints an executor who is responsible for ensuring that the terms of the will are complied with during the probate process. The surviving spouse of a testator is generally entitled to a share of her estate, whether or not such a share is granted in the will.

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Deposit of a Will

The testator may deposit his will in the office of the judge of the probate court of his county. The judge must keep the will and provide a certificate of deposit. The testator must enclose the will in a sealed wrapper bearing his name. He may also add the name of a person to whom it should be delivered after his death. After the testator’s death, the will can then be delivered to that person. If he cannot be found, or if no such person has been named, the will can be publicly opened by the probate court.

Changing a Will

A testator may change her will whenever he wishes. If a testator only wishes to make a minor amendment, she can write and sign a short codicil to the original will. A testator can cancel or revoke a will by physically destroying it or by writing another will to supersede the original.

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