If you die without a will, Ohio has a law that specifically states which relatives in what order should inherit. When you create your own will or trust (read here about the differences between the two), you may choose the people you want to inherit your assets, which means you can also choose to leave certain people out of your estate.
Can I Disinherit in My Will?
The short answer is YES, in Ohio you are able to disinherit certain members of your family from receiving anything out of your estate. Keep in mind that in order to do that and to avoid your will being contested, there should be no doubt as to your intentions during the process. This means that you need to make your intentions clear to the attorney drafting your documents. Also, it is important to have witnesses who are able to confirm that you were of sound mind when you signed your last will and testament and that you did so without being pressured, threatened or coerce by anyone to do so. All this will ensure that your will is accepted by the court because otherwise you run the risk of the court deeming the will invalid, meaning that you died intestate (or without a will) and your estate is then distributed according to the Ohio law.
Other Options Besides Disinheritance
If you are unsure whether you want to disinherit someone completely or want to avoid that person contesting your will, there are other options available.
Rather than not mentioning that person at all in your will, raising the question of whether you simply forgot about them, but really intended to include them, it is best to specifically state in the will that you wish to disinherit that person, deeming them to have predeceased you and receive nothing from your estate.
Another option is to leave that person a small inheritance, a small amount of money for example, stating that if they decide to challenge your will or trust, they will lose everything and receive nothing from the estate, even the previously stated amount. This will often discourage people from disputing the validity of the will, especially if the amount is significant enough that they would not want to lose it.
Can I Disinherit Surviving Spouse?
While it is technically possible to disinherit your spouse in a will, keep in mind that there are some Ohio laws that provide some protection for the spouse, even in case of disinheritance. Below are some assets the surviving spouse may be entitled to, if he or she decides to elect against a will and notifies the probate judge of that, in person, within five months after the executor for the estate was appointed.
- Surviving spouse is entitled to reimbursement for funeral expenses;
- Surviving spouse can challenge the validity of a prenuptial or separation agreement;
- Surviving spouse is permitted to remain in the primary residence for up to a year after date of death and if the house is sold, is entitled to receive fair rental value for the remainder of the year;
- Surviving spouse can take up to two vehicles from the probate estate, as long as they were not bequeathed to someone specific, and their value is less than $40,000 total;
- Surviving spouse may be entitled to a support allowance of up to $40,000; however, if the decedent had children under 18, who are not the children of the surviving spouse, that amount will be divided between the children and the surviving spouse.
- Surviving spouse may be entitled to one-half of the estate, unless there are more than two surviving children, who are not the surviving spouse’s children, then the surviving spouse can take up to one-third of the estate.
We Can Help
Have further questions about your options for an estate plan? Call Sobon Law, LLC today (216) 586-4246!