Scratching out your last wishes on a napkin may make for a good storyline in a movie but that is not how writing a will works in real life. This document must stand up in court, so you need to be sure that any will you create follows the legal requirements set under Ohio law. Writing out your wishes is only the first step in creating this legal document.

The Ohio Revised Code states that you need to also sign your will and have at least two witnesses sign it. The witnesses’ signatures attest that you wrote this will yourself under your own free will. You also must be at least 18 years old to create a legal will and mentally competent to understand what the document means legally.

There are some additional things to know about whom you have witness your will. Your witnesses must also be at least 18 years old. If you only have two witnesses and one of them receives something in the will, then he or she cannot receive what you left to him or her in the will. It voids that part of your will. If you have more than two witnesses, then this is not an issue. Your witnesses also need to understand they may have to testify in court to the validity of your will during the probate process.

Essentially, Ohio law seeks to ensure that someone could not coerce you or force you into creating a will that does not state your actual wishes. It helps to keep everyone honest and also assists with preventing issues during probate. This information is for education and is not legal advice.