New legislation impacting probate of wills, administration of decedent’s estates and handling of guardianships went into effect April 6, 2017. Previously, we detailed its adoption of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act and the Ohio Power of Attorney Act. You can read that article here.

Now, we’ll examine further details of Ohio House Bill 432 (the Bill) and the revisions it made to Ohio’s estate law:

Upon payment of a $25 fee, original wills may now be deposited in the office of the judge of the probate court before or after death. A deposited will shall not be a public record unless/until an application is filed for probate. Any will on deposit after 100 years shall be disposed of by the then acting probate judge, after electronic copying.

For purposes of testate or intestate inheritance, the Bill treats any beneficiary who knows of the existence of the will and intentionally withholds it’s offering for probate as if they were predeceased.

The Bill permits the apportionment of estate tax to a marital or charitable share, as long as the potential loss of any deduction is expressly acknowledged in the written instrument.

It also removes the limit on the number of automobiles that can be selected by a surviving spouse as non-probate transfers, but caps the total value of all vehicles selected at $65,000. Language about the value of the least expensive automobile counting against the Family Allowance is retained.

The Bill clarifies that an individual who is not shown (by clear and convincing evidence) to have survived the other individual by 120 hours is deemed to have been predeceased. Therefore, no descendant of an intestate can inherit anything unless they survived the decedent by 120 hours or were born within 300 days and have lived for at least 120 hours.

In instances where the spouse and heirs file written “consent,” the Bill provides that a guardian may sell a ward’s real estate without a formal land sale action. No power of sale can be effective if the ward’s spouse or any of the next-of-kin is a minor. Certain appraisal and surety bond requirements will apply to all sales.

Finally, the Bill permits custodianship under the Ohio Transfer to Minors Act to be extended beyond age 21, but only if the creating instrument (i.e. the will, trust, or exercise of power of appointment) specifically provides that it is to continue to a specific age; however, in no instance can the arrangement extend beyond age 25. The Bill also increases the threshold for Court approval on an OTMA transfer to $25,000, if the arrangement is in the minor’s best interest and not otherwise prohibited or inconsistent with the applicable governing instrument.

There have been many changes to Ohio’s estate law and we understand how confusing their intricacy can be. If you have questions concerning your estate plan or the effect these changes may have on it, the attorneys at Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter are prepared to discuss this and other matters in conjunction with developing a flexible estate plan that helps you meet your goals and objectives.