What is intestate succession?

The thought of causing discord amongst your potential beneficiaries in Cincinnati may be causing you to put off your estate planning. You might even believe the best course of action to be to not make any stipulations whatsoever and leave it to them to sort out your estate. Yet it is not that simple; the state actually steps in and dictates how you are assets are to be distributed if you die without leaving a will. Intestate succession (or the succession of assets for those with no will) does involve your family members in the distribution process, yet perhaps not to the extent that you would like. 

Local intestate succession guidelines can be found in Section 2105.06 of Ohio's Revised Code. Here, it lists your surviving spouse's claim to your intestate estate to be: 

  • The entire estate if you have no lineal descendants or your descendants are also those of your spouse
  • The first $20,000 and then half of the estate's remaining balance if you have one descendant that is not also the descendant of your spouse
  • The first $20,000 and then one-third of the estate's remaining balance if you have two or more descendants who are also not the descendants of your spouse
  • The first $60,000 and then one-third of the estate's remaining balance if you have two or more descendants for whom your spouse is the natural or adoptive parent of one (but not all) of them

If you have no surviving spouse, then your assets would pass to your children, your parents, your siblings (and their descendants), your grandparents, your next of kin, and finally your stepchildren. No allowances are made for anyone not related to you. If you want friends, business partners or charitable organizations to benefit from your estate, you have to stipulate that in a will. 

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