Wills in Westerville, Ohio

Shaping Your Future and Protecting Your Legacy Using Wills

Wills are considered the foundation of a good estate plan. They are a reflection of your wishes, ensuring that your assets and legacy are protected and distributed according to your desires. Whether you’re contemplating creating your first will or thinking about updating an existing one, our Westerville wills attorney is here to guide you through the process, offering our support every step of the way. 

Quick Summary:

  • A will is the foundation of a good estate plan, reflecting your wishes for asset distribution and legacy protection.
  • Types of wills include simple wills, self-proving wills, holographic wills, oral wills, and living wills.
  • Creating a will in Ohio involves a structured process, and our attorney can guide you through it.
  • Dying without a will can result in intestate succession, controlled by state laws, leading to potential complications.
  • A will can be modified or replaced, ensuring your document remains up-to-date.

At the Law Office of David Bale, we are committed to providing comprehensive legal services to address all your wills and estate planning needs. We are here to help you draft a will that reflects your unique circumstances and desires. Schedule a free consultation with our Ohio estate planning lawyers today and learn more about how we can help you secure your future and your legacy.

What is a Will and Why Do I Need One in Westerville, Ohio?

A last will and testament is a document that describes how the property you hold in your name on the date of your death will be distributed through the local court in the county of your residence at the time of your death. Your wishes about a variety of subjects following your death can be addressed in the will, including the distribution of your property, care of minor children, and burial wishes. 

A will helps you remove doubt about your desires on the points included in the will, therefore reducing the chances of disputes among your beneficiaries, to the extent that your property is controlled by your will on your death. A will allows your property to more easily be distributed to and by the persons you choose than if you have no will.

However, it is important to recognize that much property you own at the time of your death may not be controlled by your will; some property you own is going to transfer outside of your will if you have named beneficiaries on your financial accounts, or your real property, in the title to the property, or the contract with the financial institution. Nonetheless, a will is important to control property that is in your name and that is not directed to beneficiaries in these other ways.

What are the Types of Wills?

There are several types of wills that individuals can use to express their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets and the handling of their affairs after their passing. The availability and legality of these types of wills can vary from one jurisdiction to another. Some examples of different types of wills in the various states include:

Simple Will

A simple will is a basic document that outlines the distribution of assets and appoints an executor to carry out the will’s provisions. It is usually used by individuals with straightforward estates and is relatively easy to create.

Self-Proving Wills/Testamentary Wills

This type of will establishes one or more trusts upon the testator’s death. These trusts can be used for various purposes, such as providing for minor children, managing assets for specific beneficiaries, or achieving certain tax or financial planning goals. 

Some issues do arise with wills that are not signed in the presence of witnesses, so a self-proving or testamentary will is usually advised, and executed according to the law of the state in which the client lives.

Holographic Wills

A holographic will is entirely handwritten and signed by the testator. In some jurisdictions, holographic wills may not require witnesses. These types of wills are often recognized in emergencies but may not be ideal for complex estate planning.

Oral Wills

These are wills that are oral statements given to witnesses, typically during a time of serious illness or imminent danger. Not all of these wills are uniformly adopted in each state. They are usually subject to specific legal requirements, and not all jurisdictions recognize them.

Living Wills

Living wills may be something you have heard of, but these are not testamentary wills at all; they do not distribute assets, but living wills set out the client’s wishes for medical care in some limited situations and are a proclamation to the medical staff of these wishes. These types of documents are part of the client’s estate planning but are more closely related to a health care directive than a last will and testament.

How to Create a Will in Ohio?

Creating a will in Ohio involves several steps to ensure that your wishes are legally documented and can be carried out as you intend. Our wills attorney in Westerville OH can guide you through the process of creating a will:

1. Determine Your Estate and Assets

Decide what property to include in your will. Begin by making a list of all your assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and any other valuable possessions. Consider who you want to inherit these assets.

2. Choose an Executor

Select a trusted individual to be the executor of your will. The executor will be responsible for managing your estate and ensuring that your wishes are carried out. Make sure the chosen person is willing to serve in this role.

3. Consider Guardianship

If you have minor children, decide who you want to appoint as their legal guardian in case you and the other parent pass away. Discuss your choice with the potential guardian to ensure their willingness to take on this responsibility.

4. Draft Your Will

The will should clearly state your name and address, and that you are of sound mind and legal age. It should also name your executor and any guardians for minor children. Detailed instructions about asset distribution and any specific bequests should be included.

5. Sign In Front of Witnesses

In most cases, a will must be signed by the testator in front of two competent witnesses who also sign the will. Witnesses should be disinterested parties, meaning they are not beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries of the will.

6. Store the Will Securely

Store the original will in a safe, accessible place, and inform your executor and other trusted individuals of its location. 

7. Review and Update

Review your will periodically, especially after significant life events such as marriage, divorce, births, deaths, or changes in your financial situation. It is advisable to make updates as needed.

What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

If someone dies with property in their name, without designating beneficiaries, and without having a will, then the state laws of ‘intestate’ inheritance apply. In general, the intestate laws designate which family members receive your property and in what percentage, but there are also many more expenses incurred in the administration of an estate without clear direction on the authority of the estate administration normally included in a will. This can reduce the estate resources for the estate beneficiaries and often may fail to meet the decedent’s life goals.

Here is a general overview of how intestate succession works in Ohio:

  • Surviving spouse: If you are married, your spouse will inherit the first $20,000 of your assets, plus one-half of any remaining assets.
  • Children: If you have children, they will inherit the remaining assets after your spouse’s share has been distributed. If you have more than one child, the assets will be divided equally among them.
  • Parents: If you do not have a spouse or children, your parents will inherit your assets. If you have no parents, your siblings will inherit your assets.
  • Other relatives: If you have no surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings, your assets will be distributed to other relatives according to the intestate succession laws.

Can a Will Be Modified?

A will can be changed periodically through the use of amendments or “codicils.” Given today’s technology, it is as easy to simply ‘re-do’ the will with the changes desired and re-execute it in place of the prior will if there are changes. This allows clients to change their will as circumstances change throughout life.

You can also revoke an existing will in its entirety and create a new one. This is a common approach if you want to make significant changes to your will. When you create a new will, it should explicitly state that it revokes all previous wills and codicils.

The Role of Our Westerville Attorney in Creating Wills in Ohio

Wills are more than legal documents. They are instruments of peace, security, and a lasting legacy. Crafting a comprehensive will is an act of care for your loved ones, ensuring that your assets are distributed as you intend and that your family is protected from unnecessary complications during challenging times. 

Here at The Law Office of David G. Bale, we understand the significance of wills and the peace of mind they can bring. We can assist in creating a will that minimizes the potential for disagreements and legal battles. Our estate planning law firm has extensive experience in drafting wills, establishing trusts, and creating other estate planning documents. If you have questions about a will or need assistance preparing a will, contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn what options are available for you.

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