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In Ohio, a Will allows for control over asset distribution where you can specify exactly how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. This is typically done by appointing an executor who should be a trusted individual.  This is an important part of minimizing conflict and stress amongst your beneficiaries after your passing. A Will also allows you to appoint guardians for minor children and reduce potential tax burdens.

Preparing for the end of life can be an uncomfortable topic. But having a Will protects your loved ones from future expenses, disputes, and frustrations. Without a written, legal document that describes how your property should be distributed upon your death, you risk leaving inheritance matters in the hands of the state. We always recommend consulting with an attorney when preparing your Will to ensure it’s done correctly from the get-go.

What Happens When You Die Without a Will?

People who die without a Will in Ohio are considered to have died “intestate.” Dying intestate means that Ohio law dictates how your assets will be distributed. In most cases, the spouse and children of a person who dies intestate receive 100 percent of their assets. But if you die without a Will and have no surviving heirs, your property is transferred to the state.

Perhaps more important, dying with heirs, but without a Will, can lead to disputes between heirs about who receives what. Family fights may make it necessary for a court to get involved, leading to conflict, prolonged litigation, and legal costs that drain estate assets.

Questions Your Attorney May Ask You When Preparing Your Will

When meeting with your attorney to prepare your Will, we’ll ask you many questions including but not limited to:

  • Do you own real estate?
  • What type of vehicles do you have?
  • Who do you bank with?
  • Who is your accountant?
  • Who is your insurance agent?
  • Do you have life insurance?
  • Do you have brokerage or investment accounts?
  • Do you own or partially own a business(es)?
  • Do you have 401K or retirement accounts?
  • Do you have any family heirlooms?
  • Do you have any valuable artwork or jewellery?
  • Do you own any digital assets?

When to Make Changes to Your Will

According to AARP, 6 in 10 U.S. adults do not have a Will. Already have a Will? Congratulations—you’re ahead of most Americans in this regard. Although creating a Will is an important first step, the document should be revised every three to five years on average, especially when major life events occur—like retirement, a home purchase, or inheritance—or state or federal laws change. Consider making changes to your Will in the following circumstances:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Death of a spouse
  • Having or adopting a child
  • Children reach adulthood and move out
  • State law/tax code changes
  • Changing jobs
  • Moving to a new state
  • Adding or losing assets
  • Change in beneficiaries or executor
  • Life-changing health condition
  • Inheritance or other financial windfall

Contact Our Estate Planning Lawyers for Legal Assistance

Estate planning involves much more than writing a Will and reviewing it periodically. Planning for the years before you die is also critically important. Our initial estate planning consultation is free, and the choices available for securing yourself and your family do not need to be expensive. Planning for the future can also save enormous headaches and expenses within your family. Our Zanesville estate planning lawyers are ready to help you with your Will. Contact us today for a free consultation.


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17 N. 4th St.
Zanesville, Ohio 43701


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1230 Southgate Pkwy
Cambridge, Ohio 43725

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