Whether you have recently relocated to Ohio or you have lived in the Buckeye State all your life, it is not likely that you have researched the estate planning laws in this state. In fact, the number of people who adequately prepare their estates before their deaths is quite low. When someone dies intestate, which means without a will, his or her loved ones often have a challenging time during probate.
You may want to protect your family from this frustration by drafting your last will and testament. Naturally, you would like to do this in the most cost-effective and personal manner possible, so you may have planned to sit at your laptop this weekend or relax with a legal pad while you consider how to divide your estate. However, taking these actions may create just as much chaos for your loved ones during probate.
Is your will valid?
If you are over the age of 18 and have sound mental capacity, you are eligible to make a will in the state of Ohio. Sound mental capacity includes freedom from any mental illness or dementia that impairs your ability to understand the circumstances and make reasonable decisions. After your death, if there is doubt about your mental capacity at the time you created your will, your heirs may have cause to contest your will, so you may wish to include the confirmation of a doctor in your final documents.
Some states do not accept a holographic will, which is a will you write by hand. However, Ohio accepts holographic wills under the conditions that you sign the will in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the will or that you attest to your signature to two witnesses. A holographic will must be entirely handwritten, so that will you intend to write on your computer may not pass as valid in probate court.
Waiting until the last minute
Ohio also accepts some nuncupative wills, which are oral wills, usually made when someone is on his or her deathbed. For your nuncupative will to be valid, you must have two witnesses who are not heirs to your estate. The witnesses must transcribe your wishes within 10 days and be prepared to testify to your sound mind and freedom from coercion at the time of your speaking.
So many things can go wrong if you decide to make a nuncupative will, including the potential that you will not have your mental capabilities at the end of your life. You may find that meeting with an attorney can provide you with options that meet your goals and allow you to avoid leaving your loved ones with confusion and frustration at your passing.