Dying “intestate” means dying without a valid will in Ohio. This could mean that you did not create a will at all, that you created one but did not file your will appropriately or that some other factors rendered your will invalid.
Wills are one of the primary means that Ohioans use to plan their estate and decide what happens to their property after they die. But it is essential to execute a will carefully, or state intestacy laws will determine what happens to your property.
Under Ohio law, if you die without a valid will, your estate and all property you own will first go to any surviving spouse in its entirety in most cases. For example, if you and your spouse have two children when you pass, the spouse will generally receive 100% of your estate. However, if you have children by another parent, they may be legally entitled to a portion of the estate. In this case, the surviving spouse would receive one-third or more of the estate, depending on the relevant relationships, and then the remaining balance would go evenly to any children.
If anyone entitled to the estate has passed away, his or her next living descendants would receive equal shares of his or her portion of the estate.
If you do not have a living spouse or children, your estate would fall first to any living parents, then to any living siblings and then to any living grandparents. If you have none of these, your estate may fall to a distant cousin or relative.
If you do not have a qualifying relative, however, know that the State of Ohio may claim your estate in its entirety.
To exercise control over your estate, know the valid laws about creating a will in Ohio. While you may create an oral or informal handwritten will in Ohio, these are often subject to dispute, so a court may render it invalid. To create a strong will, you will want to create a will while you are of sound mind and legal age, and have two witnesses sign it with you to acknowledge it.
Know that some state laws and other contracts you have entered may override decisions you make in your will, so carefully consider these factors during the creation process.