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Writing own will- Ohio

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Taximule

Junior Member
Can a person write their own legal will in Ohio? If so, I have questions.

Background: I live with my partner. We've been together a little over 10 years and bought a house together.

1. Does the will have to be filed through the court or is giving my son a copy sufficient enough?

2. Do you need to be extremely specific? Examples: I want my son to get all of my jewelry. Do I have to list each specific piece of jewelry? Location of said items? If I want him to have a specific electric item that is mine, should I include the serial number? I just don't want there to be any arguing over possessions of who owns what when it comes to some specific items in my home.

3. I want my son to get my half of the house but should my partner still be alive after I pass, I want him to be able to remain in the house until his death then the house sold and the money to be split between the 2 children we have from different relationships. Is this possible? Note: when we bought the house, they did the title that if one of us should pass, the deed goes directly to the other one. Does this need to be changed? House is currently in my name but partner is also on it. Can't think of what they called this when we signed mortgage papers.

4. I want my son to have any motor vehicles in my name. Can he be added to the vehicle title so that he doesn't have the right to sell it, but it goes directly to him upon my death?

5. Any other specifics I should include?

Thank you for taking the time to read this!
 


Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
You really ought to have an estate planning pro handle this for you in order to make sure your wishes are clear and properly documented.
 

TrustUser

Senior Member
just to reply about your possessions, and what i would do. i would be specific about items that are somewhat costly, or have a lot of sentimentality. so for example - i want my son to get all my jewelry. this includes my whatever (where you would describe it in better detail. or if it already has documentation, like an expensive diamond, etc.)
 

adjusterjack

Senior Member
Note: when we bought the house, they did the title that if one of us should pass, the deed goes directly to the other one.
You mean it says on the deed that you both own the house jointly with right of survivorship. READ THE DEED. If yes, then anything you put in the will regarding the house will not be enforceable because it automatically becomes the property of your partner at the moment of your death and is no longer part of your estate.

Does this need to be changed?
Allowing your son to live in the house until his death is called a "life estate." Google it. You will need to change the deed to address that. However, to accomplish that you will need the consent of your partner and your partner's signature on a new deed.

Does the will have to be filed through the court or is giving my son a copy sufficient enough?
Wills get filed with the court after somebody dies, not before. And, no, it is not sufficient to give just a "copy" of the will to your son. You need to give the "original" of the will to whoever you nominate as executor or representative of your estate. Or you can give the "original" to your son so he can make sure the executor or representative of the estate handles things properly, assuming he's not the one nominated.

Do you need to be extremely specific? Examples: I want my son to get all of my jewelry. Do I have to list each specific piece of jewelry? Location of said items? If I want him to have a specific electric item that is mine, should I include the serial number? I just don't want there to be any arguing over possessions of who owns what when it comes to some specific items in my home.
Personal property is presumed to be owned by the person who possesses. If you want to leave specific items to your son you need to specifically identify those items and their locations. Yes, include brand, model, and serial number where appropriate.

I want my son to have any motor vehicles in my name. Can he be added to the vehicle title so that he doesn't have the right to sell it, but it goes directly to him upon my death?
I would be cautious about naming him on the title. That makes him an owner and puts the car at risk should he experience financial problems that could allow a creditor to attach the car.

Fortunately, Ohio allows for a Transfer on Death procedure. See:


It's not clear whether you file that form with the BMV or just attach it to your title. I suggest going to the BMV and finding out. Either way, make sure your beneficiary has a copy of the affidavit and a photo copy of your title.

As for writing up your own will, many law firms charge only a few hundred to assist you in doing that. I would be well worth the money to make sure you get it right.
 
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Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
Can a person write their own legal will in Ohio?
Yes. But if you are unsure what to do it can be very helpful to have an estate planning lawyer assist you.

1. Does the will have to be filed through the court or is giving my son a copy sufficient enough?
The will does not have to be filed with the court. What you need to do is make sure that the original is kept some place safe that your executor can access easily when you die and that your executor knows where that is. A copy does not do any good for probate. You should, of course, make sure your executor is willing and able to do the job, so talk about it with him before you nominate him as executor in the will. Note that the will does have to be signed by two people who witnessed you signing the will.

2. Do you need to be extremely specific? Examples: I want my son to get all of my jewelry. Do I have to list each specific piece of jewelry? Location of said items?
You need only be specific enough that it's clear what you want. If you want all your jewelry to go to your son, then generally a statement that simply says "I give my son all my jewelry" is going to be sufficient.

3. I want my son to get my half of the house but should my partner still be alive after I pass, I want him to be able to remain in the house until his death then the house sold and the money to be split between the 2 children we have from different relationships. Is this possible?
Yes, it's possible. You can do that either with a trust or with a life estate.

Note: when we bought the house, they did the title that if one of us should pass, the deed goes directly to the other one. Does this need to be changed? House is currently in my name but partner is also on it. Can't think of what they called this when we signed mortgage papers.
To do what you said you want the deed would indeed have to be changed.
 

TrustUser

Senior Member
i would like to urge you to be more specific about those particular items

it is not that i disagree with the statement that "i give all my jewelry to my son" is unclear

but things have a habit of "disappearing"

what if all the jewelry in the house does not include that heirloom that you wanted to give to your son ?

because it was removed, no one being the wiser

that is why i would clearly delineate any particular piece of property that has some greater worth to you than just being a part of the whole !!

a reason why i do not like amendments to trusts. if they "disappear", there may be no proof that they ever existed.

if you delineate a specific piece of property, then it is clear that it should be there !!

and that in itself, may help to keep it there !!
 

Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
if you delineate a specific piece of property, then it is clear that it should be there !!
Actually, it's not clear when you really think about it. The maker of the will (or trust) could sell it, give it away, donate it to charity, lose it, have it stolen, or whatever before the maker dies. If that occurs, then the item would not be available to give to beneficiaries in the will. All it tells you is what was there at the time the will was executed.

Rather than painstakingly describing the jewelry in the will, I think it better for the OP to photograph the jewelry (which should be done for insurance purposes anyway) and give the photos to the son so that the son knows what is in the jewelry collection he is expected to inherit. Then if someone does make off with some item, he'll have a ready way to identify it should he come across it. That doesn't solve the problem that the father might have gotten rid of a piece as mentioned in my first paragraph, but I think it better identifies the jewelry than a written description would (a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say). It also solves another problem: being too specific would mean that jewelry acquired after the will was made would not be included in the bequest; a new will or codicil to the will would have to be done to add it. But saying in the will that "all jewelry" goes to the son would include any later acquired jewelry. Then a photo of that could be taken and given to the son.
 

TrustUser

Senior Member
having a picture of it is great - any way to show that it is there

but there would be no need for a new bequest. the will was always gonna stipulate "all jewelry". i think it is best to also delineate each individual piece of jewelry that has a special sort of value, different from the whole. at least that is what i would do, in order to up the chances of everything being handled the way i wanted it to be.

"i give all my jewelry to my son. this includes item 1, item 2, and item 3 - which are then described more fully. part of that description could certainly be a photograph - that is a wonderful idea
 

Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
having a picture of it is great - any way to show that it is there

but there would be no need for a new bequest. the will was always gonna stipulate "all jewelry". i think it is best to also delineate each individual piece of jewelry that has a special sort of value, different from the whole. at least that is what i would do, in order to up the chances of everything being handled the way i wanted it to be.
Doing that is, of course, up to you. You'd need to be careful in drafting it to ensure you don't open the door for the argument that only the specifically described pieces were included in the gift to the son. However even if you do draft it to avoid that problem I see no added value in doing it since the term "all jewelry" covers it. But certainly communicating to the chosen executor what pieces are there so he knows what to look for is a good idea. And as I said, I'd do that with photos.
 

TrustUser

Senior Member
the way i wrote it, would work perfectly. it is very simple, straight-forward language. always delineate things, when possible.

this is also true in trusts. it is not uncommon for parents to want to give some trinket of theirs to a particular child. and normally there is no argument. but you never can tell.

when me and my 3 sisters had to clean out our parent's house, it was really nice. we got to re-live stuff, and we all were given the stuff that pertained to us.

when we came across something, all of us would say, "oh, that is for so and so". i think the vast majorities of families are this way. but no one comes on this site to talk about how well things went !!

like the old saying, "plan for the worst, hope for the best" is somewhat apopro.
 

Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
when we came across something, all of us would say, "oh, that is for so and so". i think the vast majorities of families are this way. but no one comes on this site to talk about how well things went !!
Maybe most are that way. But as a lawyer those aren't the ones I see all that often. However, that is basically what my sister and I did when our mother died. Indeed, my mother was just a few days away from going in to see her lawyer to sign the new will she had done when she died very unexpectedly. It gave my sister and her newborn daughter more and me less. I could have insisted on the old will being followed, but that would have been petty and not what my mother wanted. So I prepared the disclaimer needed to make the old will work like the new one. Keeping the family harmony all these years was worth far more than the extra I might have otherwise received. Unfortunately in a number of families there seems to be at least one greedy relative that will do anything to get more, even if it wrecks all the family relationships he or she has.
 

quincy

Senior Member
... when me and my 3 sisters had to clean out our parent's house, it was really nice. we got to re-live stuff, and we all were given the stuff that pertained to us.

when we came across something, all of us would say, "oh, that is for so and so". i think the vast majorities of families are this way. but no one comes on this site to talk about how well things went !! ...
That has been the experience in my family, as well, TrustUser.

I think this forum by its nature provides a bit of a skewed view of life.
 
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Taximule

Junior Member
Thank you all for the replies. I have only one child. The house was bought by my boyfriend and I. My main concern is my son getting my jewelry (with 2 specific pieces going to my nephew's) and half of the house. I'll check into things more as far as the house goes. We have agreed on splitting the house between his son and mine but as we all know, people can get crazy and/or change Wills after one dies. Want to make sure his son and my son each get half the house when it is sold.
 
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TrustUser

Senior Member
i dont know how much you use these specific pieces, and what they mean to you ---- but a real easy answer is to give these pieces to whomever NOW, while the both of you are still living.

for many people, this kind of stuff has sentimental value, with very little use value. and could very easily make both people happier knowing that the piece was actually exchanged hand to hand.

i know us kids all received various things from time to time that had basically sentimental worth. it was much more pleasing to get it from my parents while everyone was alive and healthy.

just a thought !!
 
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