Making a Will to Protect Your Family and Assets

A will is a legal document that lets people decide how to divide up assets when they die. It is something many people use to distribute property like money, belongings, and valuables among families. They may also leave trusts or other things to those left behind. Personal guardians can also be named in wills for minor children and executors are often named to make sure the terms of the will are carried out. Creation of a will has become easier with the advent of the internet but making a will that is binding after death takes careful consideration of what goes in it and how to distribute property and assets appropriately to avoid conflict after a person dies. Learn more about how to make a will that protects assets and family from legal challenges later. 


Dying Without a Will

When someone passes without a will, their property will be distributed in what is called an ‘intestacy’ or laws of intestacy. In Ohio specifically, this means property goes to closest living relatives, beginning with any spouses, followed by minor children, then siblings, and so on. Grandchildren may also benefit or parents. Distant relatives, grandparents, aunts, and uncles may benefit if there are not any of the preceding relatives to give property to in the event someone dies. Without living relatives, the state will take property and keep it for themselves. 


Creating a Will

It has never been easier to access how to make a will. With online platforms like Nolo, people can easily do-it-yourself with software and free online programs. Consulting a lawyer may be helpful for more complex estates, property, or business interests. If someone wants to disinherit people and make sure they get nothing, they should speak with a lawyer. Be aware this is quite costly, in the hundreds of dollars per hour, but some may charge a flat rate to produce a simple document. More complex ones may require additional support. Some of the requirements to sign a will may include:

  • Ability to sign and acknowledge it in front of witnesses
  • Have it notarized
  • Be of sound mind (not incapacitated) to have it be considered valid
  • Ohio does not require notarization of a will to be legal but in many states, the person signing plus a witness may sign a notarized document


Changing a Will

Revocation or changing of a will is not something to be taken lightly. Tearing up, canceling, or destroying it will make it null and void. Without having a will, it can end up in probate, costing a lot of money in legal fees to deal with before the estate clears. Some people make a will to change their old one and revise it to the new people and things they wanted in the will. If divorce happens, or separation, there are laws that can shift depending on the state, but the spouse from the separation cannot be left the property or named an executor. To make changes properly, it helps to consult a lawyer, but if there is something simple to change, a codicil works just fine. This is like an addendum to the will. 


Writing up a will may not seem complex for many people, but the act of doing it represents a facet of life many would rather not face. It means owning the fact that things are temporal and can shift at any given time including serious health issues or life-threatening illness or injury. While incapacitated, people cannot create wills. However, they can do it while they are of sound mind and able to decide how they want to distribute their property to their liking. It is in the best interest of that person and their loved ones to have something written to support their wishes in the end.

Diehl-Whittaker Funeral Service is Columbus’ oldest African-American family-owned and operated mortuary. Our goal is to serve your family when they need it most. Grief is a difficult process but we hope to make it easier by finding the right solutions to your concerns about burying your loved one with dignity and celebrating their life. If you need help with services, please call us: (614) 258-9549

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