Although thinking about the end of your life is not always pleasant, it is often necessary, especially for those who want to ensure that their loved ones are provided for after their death. Aside from this benefit, creating a will also helps save a significant amount of time and money during the probate process. To make sure that you and your family take advantage of these and other estate planning benefits, please contact one of our experienced Westlake, Ohio wills and estates attorneys for advice about your next steps.
Wills are documents in which testators can set forth what they want to have happen to their probate property after death. This could include bequeathing certain types of property to specific heirs, friends, trusts, or charitable organizations, as well as naming someone to act as the estate’s executor or a guardian for any minor children. However, in order to be considered valid, wills must meet a series of formal legal requirements, so those who fail to comply with these rules could end up having the entire document thrown out, in which case, their estate would be distributed according to the state’s rules of intestacy, which do not take a testator’s personal preferences into consideration.
To be valid in Ohio, a will must be written and then signed by the testator. This signing must also be witnessed and signed by two parties who have no interest in the terms of the will. Aside from having to abide by these formal requirements, a person is also only allowed to create a will if he or she is at least 18 years old, of sound mind, and not the victim of undue influence. As long as these requirements are met, a person’s will should escape the probate process without opposition, unless someone contests it as being the result of fraud, duress, or for otherwise failing to adhere to the law’s requirements.
Once created, a will remains in place until it is revoked or changed. Fortunately, the process of changing a will is not that complicated. In fact, testators who wish to change only a portion of their wills do not need to throw out the entire document, but can use something known as a codicil to amend it. Furthermore, no formal steps need to be taken to revoke a will if a person wants to draft an entirely new document, as the creation of a new will is considered indicative of the revocation of the other testamentary document. Otherwise, a testator can revoke a will by tearing, canceling, or destroying it or by executing another writing attesting to the revocation.
If you are thinking about starting the estate planning process, you should have the advice of an experienced attorney. Please call Kryszak Law Firm, Co., LPA at 440-934-5330 today to schedule an initial consultation with a dedicated and compassionate Westlake, Ohio wills and estates attorney about your options going forward.