Estate planning is important – no matter how large or small an estate might be. Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for disposal of the property of an estate. Estate planning will ensure a deceased person’s assets and debts are properly administered. Estate planning will also ensure important financial and healthcare decisions are made after a person’s death or incapacitation. A properly planned estate can save both time and money. A will is one of the most important documents required in any estate planning.
A will, also know as a last will and testament, is a legal document that serves many functions. It provides for the transfer of a person’s property after death. It can also name a will executor or administrator of the estate. A last will and testament can also designate a guardian who will be responsible for the care of any of the deceased’s minor children.
Under Ohio law, the testator (the person who makes a will) must meet three criteria. He or she must be:
Additionally, the will must be in writing and signed at the end by the testator. The signing of the will must be in the presence of two witnesses who are not named as beneficiaries under the will. The witnesses must also sign in the presence of each other. Lastly, the testator must acknowledge he or she is signing his or her last will and testament.
If no last will and testament is created prior to death, a person’s assets will be distributed according to state probate law. Often, the provisions of Ohio law are not what the deceased would have wanted. The creation of a last will and testament leads to several benefits which will allow a person to:
Wills can be filed with the probate court in the testator’s county of residence. If a will is not filed in the county probate court, they should be kept in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box.
Another form of will is the living will. A living will is a legal document that permits a person to declare their intentions regarding future withholding or withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments when they are no longer competent. This type of will is useful when a person is no longer capable of making informed decisions. The living will becomes effective when a doctor determines the patient is incapacitated, suffers from a terminal illness, or is in a permanent vegetative state.
Occasionally, disputes arise as to the real intentions of the deceased. Most often these disputes revolve around how much or in what way the beneficiaries will receive their share of the decedent’s estate. Will contests can include disputes over the distribution of any of the decedent’s property, such as money, real estate, stocks, and bonds.
A will contest can be brought by any person who has standing to do so. A person is deemed to have standing if he or she:
A will can be contested if a person with standing argues the will does not reflect the testator’s actual intent. A person contesting a will would have to prove:
Contact the Law Offices of Bergman & Yiangou in Columbus, Oh for a free consultation to discuss estate planning and wills. Our attorneys will help guide you through the complex probate laws, allowing you to construct an estate plan that is best for you and your family. Whether you simply need a last will and testament, a living will, wish to create an entire estate plan, or feel you have standing to contest a will, our experienced attorneys will guide you through the entire process.