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The Importance of Updating a Will After Marriage

By Nicole Hawks

May 14, 2019

Almost everyone knows (or has heard) of the importance of having (at least) a will in place. It is a simple estate planning document, but is extremely important to make sure your wishes are carried out after your passing. Your will tells the probate court where you want all of your assets—your “stuff”—to go when you pass away. It also tells the court who you want in charge to carry out your wishes. Having a will means that you have a plan in place, rather than the state having a plan for you.

So, most of us proceed to set up our wills once we reach adulthood. We may wait until certain life events—marriage, kids, home purchase, etc. However, what happens if you set up your will BEFORE you were married and then you do not update that will? What happens is simple (and in many cases unfair). According to Ohio law, the will that you created BEFORE getting married is still VALID. For example, if you left everything to your siblings before getting married and then did not update that plan, your siblings would be entitled to a big portion of your stuff, rather than your spouse. There are certain “elections” your surviving spouse could make, but the process is timely and tedious.

If there is a divorce, the exact opposite is true. According to Ohio law, if you provide for your spouse in your will and then later on obtain a divorce, that former spouse is no longer provided for, unless you specifically stated otherwise in your will. It is still highly recommended that you update your will after a divorce.

If you think you may need to discuss updating your estate planning, please reach out to an estate planning attorney at Critchfield, Critchfield and Johnston, Ltd.

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