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Estate Planning Dictionary: What is a will?

This weeks word from the estate planning dictionary is will. What is a will? Do I need one? And what happens with them?

Wills are one of the oldest estate planning tools going back to the time of the ancient Greeks. Originally meant for men without children, a will is a document that tells the world how you want your assets and property distributed. They are ingrained in our minds and one of the few legal terms that everyone know. In Ohio, a will must be signed by the testator (person making it) and witnessed by two people. Generally, these people are suppose to be disinterested parties. In Ohio, Holographic wills, those that are written out and not signed and witnessed are not valid. A will does not need to be notarized in Ohio. When a person dies, their will is admitted to Probate Court. Historically, there was a "reading of the will". All of the family would gather at the Court or the lawyer's office and he would read the will. We don't do this anymore. Now, whoever is in possession of the will gets it to a lawyer who then submits it to the Probate Court along with a variety of forms and the process begins.

Wills have become somewhat out dated as many of the things that a will does can now be done simply through operation of law. They also go through the probate process and are subject to creditors. While not nearly as good as a trust, they are still a useful estate planning tool and the absolute bear minimum that any person should have. Contact an Estate Planning Attorney today to set one up.

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