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Many Ohio residents believe that they don’t need a will. This is often because they have few, if any, assets and assume that there is no need to designate what happens to their money and belongings after they die. This is untrue.

Wills can benefit family members when the testator’s affairs are being settled. Without a will, this process becomes more difficult and often more costly. This is because a will designates an executor, someone who is authorized to close the estate, while also providing instructions as to what should be done with any money, investments or property the testator leaves behind.

Those who die without a will can leave their family members in a predicament. Someone from the family will have to go to court, prove a relationship to the deceased and ask to be made the administrator of the estate.

From there, the administrator will have to make decisions about what happens to the decedent’s assets. Without direction, this can be difficult and in some cases may lead to hard feelings among family members. Many lawyers have noted that the distribution of personal effects, such as family heirlooms, can trigger significant conflict. Even if the items have little monetary value, writing a will that designates who gets them can help protect family relationships.

Individuals who would like to write or update a will may benefit from speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney. In addition to a will, there are other documents, such as financial and health care powers of attorney, that could be appropriate.