What happens if I do not have a will or trust?

by Thomas D. Richards, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

Most people will need a trust if for no other reason than to avoid the Probate Court process in the county where they live and pass away in Ohio.  Each state creates its own probate laws and Probate Court jurisdictions.  If you pass away in Ohio without a trust or will, here is what could happen to your estate.

Passing away without a will is called intestate.  There is a statute in Ohio that dictates how your assets will be divided and who will get part or all of your estate.  This may not be the way you wanted your assets to be split, but without a will, the state of Ohio will decided who gets your assets and how much each person gets.  Most likely this gifting scheme will not be how you would have distributed your assets.  There may even be people who get you assets whom you did not want to get any of your estate.  But without having made some sort of plan for your estate, your wishes are ignored and Ohio will decide how to divide your estate.  Your estate includes your home, bank accounts, retirement funds, stock accounts, bonds, savings, checking, and most other assets that do not already have a designated beneficiary such as life insurance,IRA,401K, annuity, etc.

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