Generally speaking, a will is a legal document that coordinates the distribution of your assets after death and allows you to designate a guardian to care for your minor children. A will is important to have, as it allows you to communicate your wishes clearly and precisely. When someone dies without a will, then the State of Ohio divides your assets for you. This can lead to unintended and unwanted consequences (See Ohio Revised Code 2105.06 for a breakdown on how Ohio will distribute your things if you do not make the plan yourself: http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/2105.06).
Upon death, a probate estate is then opened for the deceased (in probate parlance this person is referred to as the "Decedent"). Probate is a legal proceeding where the validity of the will is established, and an "Executor" is appointed to manage the estate. This includes resolving claims from creditors and distributing the Decedent's assets in accordance with the will. If a person dies without a will, the court appoints an "Administrator" to perform a similar function, without the added benefit of the will's provisions to determine who gets what.
While creating a will seems simple and websites allow you to "do-it yourself," there are considerations that go beyond just the document itself that should be discussed with a licensed attorney. Considerations that include using the right language to ensure that your wishes are carried out and titling assets to avoid probate. To discuss creating a will that is right for you, contact Jesse Bowman at the law office of Alexander, Webb & Kinman (513-228-1100).
This information is intended to provide broad, general information about the law and is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney.