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Most people in Dayton likely understand the importance of creating a will that details how they would like their estates to be dispersed. Unfortunately, that understanding may not always be translating into action. Information shared by Gallup shows a decline in the number of American adults who have a will. Indeed, whereas 51 percent did in 2005, only 44 percent did in 2016.

Some may believe that the decision of who gets what from their estate will be left to their heirs if they do not leave such stipulations behind in a will. That is not the case. State law actually dictates how one’s estate is handled if one dies intestate (without a will).

Ohio’s intestate succession guidelines can be found in Section 2105.06 of the state’s Revised Code. Per these regulations, one’s entire estate passes on to their spouse if they have no lineal descendants. The same is true if they do have surviving descendants, and those descendants are also the descendants of the surviving spouse. If they are not, then the first $20,000 of the estate goes to the surviving spouse, and then the remaining balance of the estate is split equally between the spouse and the descendants. If there is no surviving spouse, the entire estate goes to the descendants.

If one who dies intestate does not leave behind a spouse or descendants, then the order of distribution of their estate would be as follows:

  • Parents
  • Siblings (and/or their descendants)
  • Grandparents
  • Next of kin
  • Stepchildren
  • The state

One will notice that per intestate succession rules, no allowances are made for anyone not directly or indirectly related to the decedent. Thus, if one wants such a party to inherit any portion of their estate, they must stipulate that in a will.