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Creating a will in Ohio

People in Columbus are told all the time that they need to start thinking about their estate planning. The most basic step in beginning this process is writing a will. Many have likely heard stories about people drawing up wills on napkins or paper plates and leaving everything they own to a random waitress or bartender. While such parties may certainly submit these types of documents as the last will and testament of a decedent, the likelihood of them being authenticated may be slim. That is because the state of Ohio has already determined the process of how one should make and file a will

Per Section 2107.02 of Ohio's Probate Code, it states that in order to make a valid will, one must meet the following minimum criteria: 

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be of sound mind and memory 
  • Not be under any sort of constraint

In this particular context, "not under restraint" means that the testator (the person making the will) understands what he or she is doing and is not being coerced or manipulated in any way. It should also be noted that just as one must be 18 in order to create a will, he or she must be the same age to qualify as a witness to another's will. 

The question then becomes once one has made a will, what should he or she do with it? It can be stored in a safety deposit box, entrusted to an accountant or attorney or saved in any way that ensures that it is preserved. The important point to remember is that according to the Revised Code of Ohio, it must eventually be deposited (either before or after the testator dies) with the probate court of the county in which the testator lives (along with a $25 fee). 

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