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Estate Planning Law

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Ohio Estate Planning

Planning for what happens after death can be just as important as planning for retirement. While you plan your financial security for your senior years, you should also plan what will happen to your finances and property when you’re gone. How can you ensure that your family and final finances will be taken care of using the assets you’ve amassed over your lifetime?

There are many tools to help you with estate planning in Ohio. Whether you live in Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati, you have access to legal estate planning resources like wills, living trusts, advance directives and more. Using LawInfo’s Ohio estate planning articles, you can learn about the legal ins and outs of securing your family’s future and connect with a qualified local attorney.

Ohio Intestacy Laws

If you die without a written Last Will and Testament in Ohio, the distribution of your estate is governed by intestacy succession laws. Ohio’s intestate laws determine your next of kin who will inherit a portion of or your entire estate according to living succession and the degree of you and your kin’s relationship. If you were to die intestate, the next of kin who would inherit your estate would be:

  1. Your spouse.
  2. Your children or their lineal descendants.
    • If your spouse, children and their lineal descendants survive you, your estate may be divided between your spouse and your children or their descendants depending on the relationship between them.
    • If all of your children were naturally descended from or adopted by your spouse, your spouse would receive your entire estate.
  3. Your parents.
  4. Your half or whole-blood siblings or their lineal descendants.
  5. Your paternal and maternal grandparents or their survivors.
  6. Your grandparents’ lineal descendants or next of kin.
  7. The stepchildren of the next of kin or their lineal descendants.
  8. The State of Ohio.

As of April 6, 2017, a new intestate law defines a “living” inheritor as someone who lives up to 120 hours following the death of the intestate. This means that if the intestate’s inheritor died more than 120 hours after the intestate’s death, they still legally qualify for the inheritance.

Ohio Wills

A will guarantees that your wishes for certain portions of your estate go to the right people when you die will be legally enforceable. Wills help to save families the trouble and potential frustration of relying on Ohio’s intestacy laws, which may not distribute assets that the decedent wanted certain people to have.

To legally make a will in Ohio, you must be at least 18 years old, of sound memory and mind and not being forced to make one. All wills must be handwritten or typewritten, including oral wills dictated by the testator “in the last sickness” and written by one of two witnesses.

You can only include assets in your will that are not tied to other legal contracts such as life insurance policies or trusts. For example, you can’t change the beneficiary of your life insurance payout in your will.

Ohio Power of Attorney

To ensure that your financial needs and responsibilities are taken care of when you’re no longer able to do so, Ohio law allows you to assign a third party the power of attorney over your finances. For instance, if you develop a health condition like dementia that incapacitates your ability to make sound decisions, an agent with the power of attorney can take care of business and financial matters in your stead and per your instructions.

The agent may only act within your best interests and per any specific instructions you include in the power of attorney form. The power of attorney is maintained until a time specified in the form, until the power of attorney is revoked or until your death.

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