The will, also known as a last will and testament, is likely the most well known estate planning document. In Ohio, anyone who is at least eighteen years old, of sound mind and memory, and not under any restrain is able to make a will. In basic terms, a will provides direction to the probate court with respect to your estate, which includes both your assets and debts.

One of the first steps is to name your executor, whose job it is to carry out the terms of your will. If you do not name an executor or your chosen executor is unable or unwilling to act on your behalf, an executor will be appointed by the probate court and will likely have to purchase a bond (insurance against theft of your estate) – even if they are a relative.

A will may also be used for the important purposes of naming a guardian for your minor children, leaving assets to friends and love ones, and even choosing who you would want your pet to go to. It should be noted that if you are not married to your child’s other parent, they may still have a right to be your child’s guardian. Likewise, there are provisions in Ohio allowing spouses to make certain claims on an estate even if you do not include them in your will. These situations should all be discussed with an attorney.

If you die intestate, without a will, the probate court will determine who your executor is, who should be your children’s guardian, and who will get your assets – including your beloved dog Spot.