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Do You Need a Lawyer to Change Your Will in Ohio?

Do You Need a Lawyer to Change Your Will in Ohio?
October 1, 2018 Shannon Dawes

At some point after creating your will, you might want to make changes to it. You might someday want to change beneficiaries or change the executor of your will. In Ohio, do you need to hire a lawyer to make a change to your will?

Codicils and Will Amendments

To amend a will, the testator (owner of the will) will need to create a codicil. A codicil is an instrument used for the purpose of changing a will. It does not revoke a will but merely supplements or alters the will to adhere to the testator’s present wishes. In the state of Ohio, you do not need a lawyer to write a will, so you also do not need a lawyer to create a codicil. However, you have to make sure both your will and your codicil are valid. If not, your efforts will be lost.

Wills and codicils must meet certain requirements in order to be valid under Ohio law. These include:

  1. The sound mind and memory of the testator at the time of the drafting;
  2. The committal of the document to writing;
  3. The signature of the testator;
  4. The signatures of two disinterested people who witnessed the testator’s signature.

Your will and your codicil can actually be handwritten in Ohio, as long as they both meet the other legal requirements for will and codicil formation. In fact, the historical prevalence of handwritten wills is one reason codicils are allowed. To save people from rewriting their entire wills by hand, the law allowed for a second document to supplement and change the will.

Drafting a New Will

Codicils can be tricky to create because they need to specifically state the portion of the will to be changed and need to meet all the state’s validity requirements. If your codicil is not valid for any reason, your original will controls your estate. This might mean your true last wishes are not honored.

If you want to avoid the potential pitfalls of an invalid codicil, it is wise to form a new will. The new will acts to revoke your old will and makes your current wishes completely clear. Because almost all wills are now typed and saved on computers, codicils are not as necessary for changing them. You can easily make the changes you need to an existing electronic document without worrying about whether a new document will be considered valid at a later time.

Though you can do these things on your own, it is always best to work with an experienced attorney. You want to be sure all of your wishes are clear and that you form a document or combination of documents that will honor those wishes upon your passing.

Contact Dawes Legal, LLC, today to discuss amending your current Ohio will or forming a new will. You can schedule a consultation with Attorney Shannon Dawes by calling (614) 733-9999.