Do you have a valid will? Regardless of your age or health, a will is extremely important. Although we can make plans for the future, it is critical to have plans in writing for distributing your assets to your loved ones. When you are planning to make a valid will, you should seek the advice of an experienced Ohio estate planning attorney who can ensure that your will is valid and that your wishes will be honored. If your will is invalidated by an Ohio court, then you will die intestate, and your property will only be able to pass according to Ohio laws of intestate succession. In other words, the state will decide how your assets are to be distributed.
What makes a will valid in Ohio? We want to provide you with some information that may help you before you are able to contact an Ohio estate planning lawyer.
Elements of a Valid Will
Under Ohio law, a number of elements are required for a will to be valid. In order for a will to be valid, it must:
- Be in writing (either handwritten or typewritten);
- Be signed by the testator (i.e., the person making the will), or by another person at the testator’s direction and in the testator’s conscious presence;
- Be attested and subscribed by two or more competent witnesses in the conscious presence of the testator (and those witnesses must have seen the testator subscribe, or heard the testator acknowledge the testator’s signature).
What does conscious presence mean? According to the statute, it means within the senses of the testator, but not within the senses through electronic communication. In other words, conscious presence does not include seeing or hearing over telephone or video calls.
Are Oral and Handwritten Wills Valid?
Handwritten wills, known as holographic wills, are valid in Ohio as long as all of the above requirements are met. These wills must also comply with requirements of Ohio wills, including the requirements of two witnesses.
Oral wills, which are also known as nuncupative wills, typically will only be valid if a person is dying and is unable to write the will by hand. These are not recommended except as a last resort, and an attorney should be consulted to assure it’s handled correctly.
Changing a Will and Making Sure the New Terms are Valid
Ohio law allows you to change your will at any time as long as you are competent, but you will need to ensure that the terms in the new will or the “codicil” (will amendment) are valid (and that the old terms are not). To change your will, you will usually need to make a new will according to the requirements listed above, and you will need to destroy your old will (or have it destroyed in front of you or according to your instructions). You should specifically revoke the old will in the new will.
Contact an Ohio Estate Planning Attorney for Help with Your Will
Do you need assistance drafting a last will and testament in Ohio? To ensure that your will is valid, and that your property passes according to the terms of your will, you should seek guidance from one of our experienced Ohio estate planning attorneys. We routinely assist clients in drafting wills and handling other estate planning matters. Contact Dworken & Bernstein today! It is never too early to begin working on your will and other estate planning documents.