Making a will is important to ensure the distribution of your assets according to your wishes. In the absence of a valid will, the court will appoint an administrator to distribute your estate according to Ohio’s intestacy provisions, which can be cumbersome and may not fit in with your wishes at all.

The following points can help you frame your goals for your will. In addition, getting an attorney’s help in drafting the document can help you ensure a valid will that fully sets forth your wishes.

1. Technical requirements

A formally invalid will can undermine all the careful thought you put into figuring out how you want to leave your assets. Ohio law provides that to make a valid will, the testator must be over the age of 18, be free from undue influence and have the requisite mental capacity. The will must be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses.

The law does not require your will to be notarized. If you are physically unable to sign, someone can sign on your behalf in your presence; you must be aware of this person and the fact that he or she is signing on your behalf.

2. Long-term consequences of bequests

Another matter to consider is the potential effect of distribution under the provision of your will. You may want to consult your lawyer about likely tax consequences or the impact on businesses that number among your assets.

3. Foreseeable challenges

You know your own family and its surrounding circumstances. Thus, you are in the best position to know whether particular provisions are likely to give rise to challenges and litigation. If you want to make a potentially controversial bequest some heirs may see as unfair, you may want to take steps to safeguard your will.

For example, heirs often claim that the decedent made an unpopular bequest because he or she lacked mental capacity. If this could be the basis for a future attack on your will, you may want to specifically establish that you possess testamentary capacity. One option might be to undergo a cognitive evaluation and have a detailed report drawn up.