When you create a will, you choose who will receive your property, you select someone you trust to act as the “personal representative” or “executor,” and if you have children under 18 years of age, you appoint the person you want to be their legal guardian if you die. Creating a will is the cornerstone of an estate plan, but can this be done using a statutory will?
A statutory will is a “fill-in-the-blank” form that is simple to complete, inexpensive to prepare, but very limited in its use. A statutory will is only authorized for use in a handful of states, and Ohio is not one of them. Because of their limitations, statutory wills should not be used by:
- Blended families: The families need specific estate planning tools to make sure that children from previous relationships are taken into consideration, as many states do not recognize ‘step’ families in the laws used to distribute property when there is no will – known as the laws of intestacy.
- Families with large amounts of property or complex estates.
- Parents who will not be leaving equal shares of property to their children, since a statutory will assumes that all heirs in the same family category would be treated the same.
- Families with special needs children: A statutory will cannot be used to set up a trust or make other arrangements that may be necessary if there is a child who may need ongoing special care as an adult – particularly since an outright inheritance may interrupt any public benefits.
- Business owners: The statutory will does not provide any way to implement a business succession plan.
A statutory will does not meet the needs of many of today’s families – consider working with an estate planning attorney who can create a will that reflects your true intentions and meets your specific needs.