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What Types of Wills are Legal in Ohio?

— February 7, 2023

Valid wills can be drawn up by individuals who are 18 years of age or older, are of sound mind, and without undue influence. 

The state of Ohio does not recognize holographic wills. A holographic will is one written in the testator’s handwriting but not signed by any witness. A Last Will and Testament is important for the purposes of explaining where and how an individual would like their assets divided, debts resolved and end of life issues outlined because they are very personal matters. Cleveland estate planning lawyers guide clients to make sure a will contains the legally necessary language so a person’s wishes can be honored at the time of their death according to Ohio and federal laws. Common types of wills  recognized by the law include simple wills, pour over wills, and wills with testamentary trusts. Ohio estate planning lawyers can assist families to determine the best type of will for their needs in estate planning. 

  • Will With Testamentary Trust is a last will and testament that adds a trust fund for children or other beneficiaries, creating a trust that becomes effective upon the death of the testator.
  • Simple will is the most basic type of will where the testator (maker of the will) documents his or her assets, names the beneficiaries, and appoints a personal representative (often referred to as an executor) to handle the probate process. 
  • Pour Over Will is used when there is a revocable trust and instead of making the distributions to a single beneficiary, or beneficiaries, the will makes one distribution into the Trust.  This type of will requires all the other key provisions mentioned, but it transfers the duty to distribute the estate assets to the trustee of the trust. A pour-over will can sweep up any assets that may have been forgotten or not transferred and  place them into the trust for distribution to a trust’s beneficiaries. A pour-over will can be used to make specific bequests like a simple will with specified assets for certain individuals.

It is prudent to seek consultation with an attorney because they can advise clients on important document specifics that focus on executors, guardians, client-focused clauses, trusts for beneficiaries, etc.

Valid wills

Image by Matthias Zomer from
Image by Matthias Zomer from

Valid wills can be drawn up by individuals who are 18 years of age or older, are of sound mind, and without undue influence.  Wills are used to identify guardians to care for minor children and property left to them; to name an executor who conducts the terms of a will and to leave property and certain assets to specific individuals and organization chosen by the testator.  

Hire a lawyer

Consultation with a lawyer is important to understand the distinction between formally written wills (simple, pour over and testamentary trust) and holographic wills.  When possible, it is best to hire estate planning lawyers to draft essential documentation to minimize legal challenges to a deceased’s estate. Consultation with tax lawyers may be necessary so they can review estate planning documents and explain how tax burdens will be managed.


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