Like many people in Ohio, the prospect of estate planning may seem downright daunting to you. Most might assume that this hesitancy arises from having to face the prospect of your own mortality. Yet in actuality, your reason may indeed center on a concern that you do not want to offend your family members and/or friends with your estate decisions.
Some might tell you a solution to this is simply to not prepare a will. The assumption is that by doing so, you leave the decisions regarding the distribution of your estate to your potential beneficiaries. Yet that is not the case.
Intestate succession in Ohio
If you die “intestate” (without a will), the state determines the dispersal of your estate. Section 2105.06 of Ohio’s Revised Code details the state’s policy in this regard. This statute states that your spouse would receive your entire intestate estate (conversely, your descendants would receive your estate if you leave no spouse). Your surviving spouse also receives your entire estate if your descendants are also theirs. If any of your descendants are no also those of your spouse, then your spouse receives the first $20,000 of your estate plus one-half of its remaining value if only of the descendants is not related to them, or the first $20,000 plus one-third of the remaining value of multiple descendants are not related to them (the initial amount increases to $60,000 if at least one of the descendants is the biological or adoptive child of the spouse).
Other intestate allowances
If you have no spouse or descendants, then your intestate estate would pass as follows:
- Siblings (and/or their descendants)
- Maternal and paternal kindred
Notice no allowances exist for non-relatives. If you wish for such a party to benefit from your estate, you must specify that in a will.