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What happens if an Ohio resident dies without a valid will?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2022 | Probate |

Like other states, Ohio has what are called intestate succession laws which spell out what will happen to a resident’s property should she die without leaving a will.

These laws only apply to a Dayton resident’s probate property.

In other words, even if someone leaves no will, property like jointly held real estate with survivorship rights, life insurance benefits, retirement accounts and joint bank accounts will not be subject to these laws.

Likewise, property held in a valid trust does not pass through probate and would not be subject to these laws.

Ohio’s intestate laws heavily favor a person’s surviving spouse. The surviving spouse will receive all of a person’s estate if he had no other children outside of his relationship with the surviving spouse.

If a person does have children from another relationship, the surviving spouse still receives the first $20,000 from the estate plus half of the balance, with the children or the children’s closest descendants getting the rest.

If a person dies unmarried and without a will, his surviving children or those children’s lineal descendants will receive equal shares of the probate estate.

The law also provides for what happens if a person dies both unmarried and childless.

Without a will, a court will have to appoint an administrator of the estate

One of the most important provisions in a will is the drafter’s nomination of an executor who will manage the probate estate and ensure that, after debts and expenses get paid, those entitled to a share of the estate receive it.

Again, a court will first look to the person’s widow or widower to serve as administrator. If the person died unmarried, or if the spouse does not want to serve, then the court will try to identify an adult child of the person or other next-of-kin.

Of course, not having a will can make the selection process more difficult.

Administering any Ohio estate can be complicated, especially since it has to be done during a stressful and emotional time. Administering an estate without a will may require some additional attention.


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