Inheritance Rights of Children in Ohio
In the State of Ohio, inheritance laws are designed to ensure that a deceased person's property is distributed according to their wishes or, in the absence of a will, under state intestacy laws. For children, these laws determine their rights to inherit from a parent's estate. Understanding these laws is vital for families and legal practitioners alike.
When There Is a Will
In cases where there is a valid will, the distribution of an estate is typically governed by the terms set forth in that document. A parent in Ohio has the right to disinherit a child in their will. However, if the will appears to unintentionally omit a child born or adopted after the creation of the will (a pretermitted heir), that child may have a right to a share of the estate pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Section 2107.34.
Intestate Succession in Ohio
If an individual dies without a will, Ohio's intestate succession laws come into play. Under these laws, children are given priority in inheriting assets. The share of inheritance depends on whether there is a surviving spouse and other surviving descendants.
- Sole Survivors: If there are no surviving spouses or other descendants, the children inherit everything.
- Surviving Spouse And Children: If there is a surviving spouse and children from that marriage, the spouse inherits the first $20,000 of the estate plus half of the remaining balance, and the children inherit everything else.
- Children From Another Relationship: If there are surviving children from another relationship, the spouse receives the first $60,000 if they had children with the decedent and $20,000 if they did not, plus one-third of the remaining balance; the children receive the rest.
A key point to note is that stepchildren do not automatically have inheritance rights under Ohio's intestacy laws unless they have been legally adopted by the decedent.
Adopted and Biological Children
In Ohio, adopted children have the same inheritance rights as biological children (Ohio Revised Code Section 3107.15). This includes both intestate rights and rights under a will unless the will specifies otherwise.
Children Born Out of Wedlock
Children born out of wedlock have inheritance rights from their biological mother. To inherit from their biological father, paternity must be established. Historically, this was a contentious issue; however, modern statutes provide mechanisms for establishing paternity even after a father's death (Ohio Revised Code Section 2105.06).
The complexity of inheritance laws underscores the importance of estate planning. For those in Ohio with concerns about their children's inheritance rights or those facing an intestate estate situation, consulting with an experienced estate attorney can provide clarity and ensure that your family's rights are protected.