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.
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. Friends, relatives, such as nieces, nephews, cousins, etc., and charities—who are not considered heirs—won’t be eligible to receive your property.
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.
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:
- 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
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 consultations are free, and the choices available for securing yourself and your family do no need to be expensive. Planning for the future can also save enormous headaches and expenses within your family.