Every state has a similar process for making a will, but there are differences. Every state has its own statues that determine the requirements a will must meet in order to be recognized as valid. When you make an online will in Ohio, you have to make sure you satisfy all the legal requirements—otherwise, the court may reject your will. To make an online will in Ohio, you should use an online will that is customized for the state.
Can I Make an Online Will in Ohio?
Yes, you can make a will online in Ohio. To do so, use an online will making service such as USLegalWills, an award-winning service for making an online will.
The legal requirements for a will in general also apply to a will made online. The requirements for a will to be valid in Ohio are:
- The person making the will (also known as the Testator) must be 18 or older,
- The Testator must be of sound mind and memory, and
- The Testator must not be under restraint.
- After making an online will, you must print it out.
- Two or more competent witnesses must sign the will in front of the Testator after either seeing the Testator sign the will or hearing the Testator’s acknowledgement of their signature.
Some states allow digital-only wills, which means the will can be made online, signed, and witnessed electronically without making a paper copy. However, most states still require a paper copy with physical signatures. Ohio has had precedent cases in which digital-only wills have been accepted by the probate court, but the state has not yet fully allowed electronic wills. The laws regarding electronic wills are ever-changing as technology advances; however, in Ohio—for now—it is best to make your will in hard copy with physical signatures.
Ohio also has a “voiding statute,” which means that you should choose two witnesses who are “disinterested parties” (the witnesses do not stand to inherit from your estate). If one of your witnesses is an “interested party” and you do not have two other “disinterested parties” as witnesses, any provisions left to the witness may be voided.
Does Ohio Require a Notarized Will?
No, Ohio does not require you to notarize your will for it to be valid. And while many states allow for wills to be “self-proved,” which requires a separate notarized document, Ohio does not.
Because Ohio does not allow for a will to be “self-proved,” your witnesses must be available and willing to testify to the authenticity of the will when it is presented to the probate court. Your witnesses will be asked about the circumstances surrounding the signing of the will. They will need to testify to your state of mind during that time; they will be asked if they saw you sign the will, if you told the witnesses it was your will, if they saw each other sign the will, and if you were acting freely (not under any undue influence) during this time.
Once your witnesses testify to the validity of your will, the court will then determine if your will is to be accepted or rejected. It is important to make sure you follow all the legal requirements to execute your will properly.
Can I Name an Executor in Ohio?
Yes, you can name an executor in Ohio when you make a will in Ohio—online or otherwise. The executor is the person who is appointed to settle the estate, assuring that the will is followed. It is always best to name someone as the executor in your will; if you do not name an executor, the court will appoint one (which can cause delays in the probate process). You should choose someone you know and trust to serve as the executor, as this person will be responsible for a wide array of tasks to fully settle your estate. Be sure to pick someone who is organized, detail-oriented, and up to the task of serving as an executor.
Here are the requirements for an executor in Ohio:
- The executor must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind.
- With certain exemptions, the executor must be bonded by a private insurance company, which requires that:
- They must have an excellent credit rating, and they must not have a criminal record.
Next-of-kin are exempt from the requirement of a bond in order to serve as executor, unless the court determines that a bond is necessary.
To name an executor who lives out-of-state, there are some specific guidelines in Ohio:
- An out-of-state executor can only be appointed if they are related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption, or if they reside in a state that permits nonresidents to serve as executors.
For practical purposes, it is better to name an executor who lives nearby; the process to settle an estate can take weeks or months. But as long as the person meets the above requirements, you are free to name them as your executor. You can also name more than one executor, to act as co-executors, or to substitute if the other executor declines appointment or is deemed unqualified.
Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in Ohio?
No, you do not need an attorney to make a will in Ohio. If you have a large or complex estate; however, it is always wise to consult an estate planning attorney. You should consult an attorney if you intend to leave conditional requirements in your will. But in most cases, if the estate is simple and the will is straightforward, online will making is a good option. Be sure to use an online will making service with state-specific templates, and make sure to follow the legal requirements for a will to be valid in Ohio.
What Types of Wills Are Valid in Ohio?
Whether made online or not, any will that meets the state requirements for a legal will is valid in Ohio.
Can I Make a Holographic Will in Ohio?
A holographic will is a handwritten last will and testament—a holographic will is signed only by the Testator (the person making the will). Holographic wills often face delays in probate court as they do not always include important provisions, and they must be proved authentic. This can become a complicated legal process.
Ohio does not recognize holographic wills; however, handwritten wills may be recognized if they are properly witnessed. To avoid legal complications, it is best to use an online will making service with a template designed for Ohio. A handwritten will is easier to contest.
Can I Make a Nuncupative or Video Will in Ohio?
Sometimes left on video, a nuncupative will is an oral will. While nuncupative wills are not ideal, they are allowed in Ohio under certain conditions:
- Nuncupative wills are only valid if made by someone in their last sickness before death, and only if they are unable to write it by hand.
- It must be declared in front of two “disinterested” and competent witnesses.
- Witnesses must reduce the declaration to writing within 10 days.
- Witnesses must prove the Testator was of sound mind, not under restraint, and that the Testator called these witnesses specifically to declare a last will and testament.
- It must be submitted to probate within 6 months of the Testator’s death.
While a nuncupative will is better than no will at all, if time and health allow, it is always best to make and execute a written will. Like holographic wills, nuncupative wills often face challenges during the probate process.
How Is a Living Will Different from an Online Will in Ohio?
A living will (sometimes known as an advance directive) is a separate legal document from a last will and testament. While a last will and testament contains matters pertaining to a person’s estate, a living will contains instructions on medical decisions and end-of-life care. The last will and testament, whether made online or not, is not the right place to leave medical directives or end-of-life care instructions. Instead, leave these instructions in a living will. It is your responsibility to inform family and medical providers of your living will. Make copies of it to give to trusted family as well as to your doctors.
You can make both a last will and testament and a living will online. For more information on living wills in Ohio, you can go here.
The general requirements for a living will in Ohio are:
- The declarant must be an adult of sound mind.
- It must be signed and dated by the declarant in the presence of two witnesses, or
- In the presence of a notary public.
Why Do I Need to Make a Will Online in Ohio?
If you own property or have children, it is important to make a will. Otherwise, if you die without a will, the intestacy laws of Ohio will determine what happens. The state will also appoint guardians for minor children and an executor of the estate. This can become an exhaustive probate process, and property is often held up in probate for months or years at a time. Your estate will be divided between surviving family members according to Ohio’s intestacy distribution laws. If the court determines you have no surviving family members, the state can take ownership of your property.
You can only distribute your estate in a specific way if you make a will in Ohio; otherwise, it is all determined by the court. If you have minor children, it is vital to appoint guardians for them in the event that anything should happen to you.
What Can I Include in an Online Will in Ohio?
In addition to appointing guardians for any minor or dependent children, you can include the following in a will in Ohio (online or otherwise):
- You can choose someone to oversee any property left to minor children.
- You can choose someone to care for any remaining pets.
- You can leave property or gifts to specific people (family, friends, or any individual you so choose).
- You can leave family heirlooms and sentimental items to specific people.
- You can leave other personal or sentimental items to specific people.
What Should Not Be Included in a Will in Ohio?
You should not include funeral directions, medical directives, or end-of-life care desires in a last will and testament. A last will and testament is typically not consulted until after the funeral is held, meaning your family may not know about your desires until after they make arrangements. Medical directives and end-of-life care stipulations need to meet specific criteria to be considered effective and legally binding.
To designate end-of-life care and medical directives, you should create a living will.
To leave your funeral directions, there is no formal document necessary. You can simply discuss your wishes with your family, but you can also make a separate document in which you describe your desires for funeral arrangements. You should make copies of this document to give to the executor of your estate and/or other trusted family members.
Can I Change or Revoke an Online Will Made in Ohio?
Considering a will is a legally binding document, whether made online or not, it is important to know how to change or revoke your will. You can change or revoke your will at any time.
In Ohio, here are ways to change or revoke a will:
- You can revoke a will by executing a new will,
- You can revoke a will by writing another document that revokes the will; it must be signed and attested in the same manner as a will.
- You can physically destroy the will in a revocatory act (by burning, tearing, shredding, or otherwise destroying it).
- You can order someone else to physically destroy it in front of you.
With any big change in your life, it is a good idea to revisit a will. If you get married or divorced, if you have or adopt a child—these are all times in which you should update your will. Other reasons include the acquisition of significant assets which change the distribution of property or relocation to another state or country. If you are making significant changes to your will, it is best to revoke the old one and execute a new one. However, if you only need to make minor changes, you can instead add a codicil to your will. A codicil is an amendment that details the changes that you attach to your will; it must be finalized in the same way as you would a will.
In Ohio, if you divorce or if your marriage is annulled, any provisions left to a former spouse are automatically revoked. If your former spouse is the named executor in your will, that is automatically revoked as well. After divorce, you should revisit your will to fully understand how the divorce impacts your will.
How Do I Finalize an Online Will in Ohio?
After you make a will in Ohio, you must take the following steps in order to finalize it:
- If made online, it is best to print it out.
- You must sign it in front of two witnesses, and
- Your witnesses must sign it in front of you.
Ohio does not allow a will to be “self-proved.”
Be sure to consider these special considerations in Ohio:
- You cannot distribute property that is owned in joint tenancy (with the right of survivorship).
- You cannot exclude a surviving spouse or minor children.
- You cannot distribute the proceeds from life insurance policies or retirement accounts (typically because you name beneficiaries in the policies themselves).
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