A will is a core part of virtually every effective estate planning. It is a legal document expressing a person’s last and final wishes, which ensures their desires are carried out. To be legally valid, a will must conform to certain basic characteristics. This raises a question: Is a handwritten will valid in Ohio?
The short answer is ‘yes’ — at least if some key criteria are met. However, handwritten wills also have the potential to cause major problems. Here, our Cortland estate planning attorney explains what you need to know about handwritten wills in Ohio.
Ohio Law: The Method of Making a Valid Will
Also referred to as a ‘holographic will,’ a handwritten will is a will entirely drafted in the handwriting of the testator. Often used in legal parlance, the term ‘testator’ simply means person who made the will. There is no prohibition on hand-drafted wills. Under Ohio law (Ohio Revised Code § 2107.03), a will may be either handwritten or typewritten. For a handwritten will to be valid, the following criteria must be satisfied:
- The writer must have been of sound mind when they made the will;
- The will must have been signed by the testator; and
- At least two (2) competent people must have witnessed the signature or must otherwise be able to attest to its authenticity
If these three (3) essential criteria are met, then a holographic will can be valid in Ohio. State courts will enforce the terms of a valid handwritten will. Of course, there is much more to writing an effective will than simply making one that is legally acceptable. To carry out a person’s last wishes, a will must be drafted properly.
Avoid Conflict and Confusion with a Professionally Drafted Will
Although a handwritten will can be valid, it is strongly recommended you get a professionally drafted will. Unfortunately, handwritten wills are often associated with confusion and conflict. Not only are there often questions about the enforceability of the will, but there are often disputes about the meanings of specific terms. Vague or improper language in a will can led to real problems.
No one wants to leave their family with uncertain instructions. To ensure your final wishes will be respected and to spare your closest loved one’s undo stress, you need a clear, well-drafted will. With a professionally drafted will, you can help to ensure the probate process will be as smooth as possible. Further, a will should be a part of a more comprehensive estate plan.
Call Our Cortland, OH Estate Planning Attorney for Immediate Help
At The Law Office of John C. Grundy, our Ohio estate planning lawyer is a skilled, effective advocate for individuals and families. If you have questions about handwritten wills, we are here to help. To arrange a free, completely confidential initial consultation with an attorney, please contact our legal team now. We represent clients throughout Northeast Ohio, including in Columbiana County, Mahoning County, Summit County, and Portage County.