As referenced in previous posts on this blog, much of the estate planning process focuses on preparing for the future. This may frighten many people in Ohio as they consider the potential of their own mortality. Even further compounding their fears is the prospect of offending some of their beneficiaries with their decisions.

These concerns may prompt some to consider bypassing the estate planning process altogether and not even creating a will. They may think that this course of action allows those they leave behind to determine the dispersal of their estates themselves. This may contribute to the fact that (according to the American Association of Retired Persons) nearly 60% of American adults do not have a will.

Administration guidelines for intestate estates

Yet is the aforementioned assumption correct? When a person dies intestate (without a will), the state determines the administration of their estate. According to Section 2105.06 of Ohio’s Revised Code, if one who dies intestate leaves behind a spouse, the spouse inherits their entire estate if they have no lineal descendants. If they do also have surviving descendants, the spouse still receives their entire estate. That amount reduces to the first $20,000 of the estate’s assets plus one-half of its remaining value if the decedent has a child that is not also the child of their spouse (the amount changes to the first $60,000 plus one-third of the remaining value if there are multiple children).

No allowances for non-relatives

Intestate succession in cases where there is no surviving spouse proceeds as follows:

  • To a decedent’s descendants
  • To a decedent’s parents
  • To a decedent’s siblings (and their descendants)
  • To a decedent’s paternal and maternal kindred
  • To a decedent’s stepchildren

One will notice that there are no allowances for non-relatives. One who wishes that a non-relative benefit from their estate must specify that in a will.