Requirements for Creating a Will that is Valid in Ohio

Our Ohio probate attorneys frequently gets asked about the requirements for creating a will. The question arises because many people have heard about cases in which someone's last will and testament was ruled as invalid and the court probated the person's assets according to statutory law rather than the terms of the will. Unfortunately, this can happen. It is important to make sure your will is valid and will be upheld by probate court. According to Ohio law and case history, a will is valid if it meets the following requirements:
  • The testator (the person who is leaving the will) must be 18 years of age or older
  • The testator must be of sound mind
  • The testator must not otherwise be under restraint or under the undue influence of another person
  • The will must be in writing — handwritten or typewritten
  • The will must be signed by the testator
  • 2 or more competent witnesses must watch the testator sign the will or hear the testator acknowledge his/her signature and subscribe the will
What if I'm Unable to Meet with Dayton or Ohio Probate Attorneys to Create a Will? Can I Write a Will by Hand or Dictate it Orally? Of course there will always be occasions when someone is unable to have an attorney's help in creating a will. Occasionally, someone will even be unable to write out their last will and testament by hand or have the physical capacity to sign a will drafted by someone else. Ohio law does provide provisions for these instances. As noted above, in order to be valid, a will must be written. It does not matter whether it is typewritten, printed on a computer, or written by hand. So, if you need to create a last will and testament in a hurry and can't get to our Dayton, Ohio probate attorney's office, you can write your will out by hand. However, when creating a will, remember that the will needs to be signed by the testator. In some cases a testator is physically unable to sign their will. They may be hospitalized and too weak to sign, or have an injury that prohibits them from signing. In circumstances like this, the testator may assign someone to sign on their behalf. For this to be valid, the signing must take place in the testator's conscious presence — the testator must be able to see or hear the person signing on their behalf without the aid of communication technology, such as computers, the internet, telephone or similar devices. In extreme cases, someone may need to dictate their will orally. This can be valid in Ohio, but only when the testator is in his or her last sickness before death if they are unable to write it by hand. An oral will must be written down and subscribed by two competent and disinterested witnesses within 10 days. The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the testator's estate. In Ohio, probate attorneys sometimes serve as witnesses to both written and oral wills. Does a Last Will and Testament Need to be Notarized to be Valid? No, your last will and testament does not need to be notarized. Research conducted by our Dayton, Ohio probate attorney's office has shown that no statute explicitly states that a will needs to be notarized. Additionally, in the 2007 case of Marshall v. Scalf, the probate judge determined that "wills do not require notary acknowledgements." Do you need to create a last will and testament that is sure to be valid after your death? In Dayton, Ohio the probate attorney's office of Gudorf Law Group, LLC, can assist in creating a will, also known as a last will and testament, that will be valid under Ohio law. Call our office at 1-877-483-6730 to schedule a free consultation. More resources on creating a will: Dayton, Ohio probate attorney's office of Gudorf Law Group free resources.