When it comes to estate planning and wills, all estate attorneys will tell you to plan early; you can never know what life will bring. If you put it off as many people do, you may find yourself in a hospital bed, needing a will. You may not be able to make it to an estate planning attorney to create a will with their help. However, in some states, you don’t need to. In states like Ohio, handwritten wills can be just as acceptable. However, the benefit of crafting a will with an attorney is they know how to make sure it is done right and in a legally binding manner. But if you know how to craft it right, a handwritten will can serve just fine.
Handwriting a Will or Orally Dictating It
If you’re incapacitated and cannot physically make it to an attorney to file your will, handwriting one is an option. In order for a will to be valid, it must be written down in some capacity. Simply stating it to a person without it being in writing is not enough. As to what sort of writing it is in, you have a certain amount of flexibility. It can be handwritten or it can be typed out. Finally, once it has been written down, you must sign it by hand.
If you are too physically weak to sign a will by hand or unable to due to an injury to the hand, you may assign someone to sign the will for you. Keep in mind they must be in your conscious physical presence for it to be valid. In these sort of cases, it can often be best to have multiple people present so if your will is contested, as handwritten wills can often be subject to, you have multiple witnesses.
If you cannot write your own will, there are also circumstances in which you can orally dictate it to another. Unlike the fairly lax standards on handwritten wills in Ohio compared to other states, orally dictating a will requires certain safeguards. In order for a will to be orally dictated, it must be done by two different, competent, and disinterested witnesses within 10 days. For example, you can’t have a family member do it because they have an interest in your estate. If you chose a nurse and a hospital chaplain to transcribe your will, this would satisfy the conditions as they have no vested interest in your estate.
Do You Need to Notarize Handwritten Wills?
In the few other states where handwritten wills are still valid, often they will require notarization. That is not the case in Ohio. While a notary does give a certain amount of legitimacy to handwritten wills, there’s no state statute saying it’s required. Furthermore, the 2007 Marshall v. Scalf case declared for certain that Ohio state does not require wills to be notarized.
So while you can choose to have your handwritten will notarized, it’s not technically required for it to be valid. However, as handwritten wills are often the most contested, it is best to have every possible safeguard put into place to ensure your heirs of legitimacy.
Are you starting the estate planning process in the state of Ohio, and need help? Contact us today. Handwritten wills being valid in the state means you don’t necessarily need the help of an attorney, but you and all the beneficiaries of your estate can benefit from our extensive expertise and years of practical experience. If you want to start planning for the future of your family, let us help you.