Ohio Wills & Probate Attorneys

When it comes to estate planning for your family’s future, you should work with a wills and probate attorney that you trust.

Introduction to Wills and Probates

Attorney Zack Dolyk can help with your Will & Probate questions.

There’s never a better time than now to start preparing for what happens after you die by writing a will or going through the estate planning process. At Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA, we are committed to getting to know our clients and to closely listening to their goals and concerns. We believe that by forming these personal connections, we are able to provide an exceptional level of services involving wills and probate, ensuring assets are distributed to the intended beneficiaries.

Wills and the Probate Court Process

A will is the best way to ensure that your estate—or the property and assets you have at the time of your death—is distributed according to your wishes after your passing. Your will enables you to:

  • Appoint an executor for your estate
  • Appoint guardians and successor guardians for your children
  • Appoint guardians for property management
  • Direct the distribution of your property
  • Create a trust or life estate
  • Provide for the payment of debts
  • Choose the powers granted to the executor
  • Plan for the payment of estate taxes
  • Reduce the risk of disputes over your estate

Probate is a legal process through which a court ensures that your will is properly executed and that your estate pays your taxes and settles your debts. Although most of your estate must pass through probate, there are some exceptions:

  • Assets held in a revocable living trust
  • Real estate subject to an Ohio transfer-on-death deed
  • Proceeds of an insurance policy for which you are not the beneficiary
  • Retirement and pay-upon-death bank accounts with a named beneficiary
  • Assets held by a couple in tenancy by the entirety, when the tenancy was created before April 4, 1985
  • Assets held in joint or survivorship tenancy, which pass directly to the survivor

Probate can be expensive. The court costs can reach $250, and your estate will need to pay the executor and attorney’s fees. Luckily, if your estate is worth less than $35,000, or $100,000 and everything passes to a surviving spouse, your estate will qualify for a simplified probate process that may take only two months.

Your estate may qualify for a complete release from probate if it is worth less than $5,000. Alternatively, your estate may not need to pass through probate if:

  • Your surviving spouse inherits everything and is legally entitled to a family support allowance;
  • Your assets are worth $45,000 or less; AND
  • Your surviving spouse has already paid the funeral costs or commits to paying them

It generally takes around six to nine months for your estate to pass through probate. Decisions are binding and have legal finality once your will is probated. The probate process can be daunting and complicated.

A wills and probate lawyer with Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA can help you write a valid will that will legally bind decisions regarding your assets and have legal finality once your will is probated. Additionally, one of our lawyers can help your estate pass smoothly through the probate process, so your beneficiaries can get their share of the estate with as little hassle as possible.

At Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA, we’re committed to providing compassionate and sensitive representation for your family’s legal matters. An Ohio wills and probate attorneywill guide you through the probate process, helping to draft or modify wills when needed.

What does a will need to be legally binding?

Although anyone can write their own will, or even fill in a pre-written will available on the internet, it is highly recommended to work with a trusted and competent wills and probate lawyer regarding your estate. An attorney with Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA will be able to help ensure that your wishes are realized after your passing and that your property is distributed to beneficiaries smoothly.

To be valid, a will must meet the following requirements:

  • It must be written by or for a testator (the person to whom the will applies) who is at least 18 years old
  • It must be in writing and signed at the end
  • Two competent people who are not beneficiaries of your estate must witness the will’s signing in presence of one another
  • The testator must declare in the presence of both witnesses that the document is intended to be his or her last will and testament

If you make changes to your will, it may become invalid. For instance, if you cross off a section and make a change, your entire will may lose its legal effect. So if you change your mind about how you want to distribute your estate, you need to rewrite a new will or append a codicil to the existing one.

A codicil is a separate document that amends a portion of your will. To be effective, it must meet the same formal requirements as a will.

What will happen if you don’t have a will?

If you don’t have a will at the time of your death, a court will appoint an administrator who will direct the distribution of your estate according to Ohio’s intestate laws. Intestate is the legal term for someone who dies without a valid will. The intestate laws may cause your property to be distributed very differently from the way you may have intended.

If, at the time of your death, you are intestate and have:

A spouse and children from that spouse

Your spouse receives all of your property

A spouse and minor children from another parent

Your spouse gets between $20,000 and $60,000 of your estate and the rest is divided among your children and your spouse

A spouse and no children

Your spouse receives all of your property

Neither spouse, nor children, but surviving parents

Your parents take everything

Neither spouse, nor children, but surviving parents

Your siblings get your property

Neither spouse, nor children, nor parents, nor siblings

Your property will be split between your grandparents and/or their descendants

These laws were designed to protect the interests of your spouse and children. In Ohio, spouses have such a strong right to the estate of their partner that it is impossible to “write them out” of a will. However, you may exclude your children from receiving any portion of your estate when you write your will.

Why a living will is an essential aspect of your estate

A living will is a document in which you dictate your intentions regarding life-saving or sustaining care when you are incapacitated. Without a living will, your estate may be forced to pay to keep you alive in a hospital until your family finishes the process of requesting the termination of your life support.

You can spare your family both the stress and expense of dealing with such a situation by writing a living will today. You can specify that you do not wish to be resuscitated or to be given life-sustaining treatment under certain circumstances. To be valid, the living will must be dated and signed in the presence of a witness or notarized.

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