When you are grieving the loss of your beloved spouse, the last thing you want to worry about is a battle over his or her estate when they died intestate, or without a will. Ohio state laws offer rules regarding statutes of descent and distribution that, as long as no other surviving relatives or heirs contest distribution, could remove this burden from your shoulders. But how do these rules affect you as the surviving spouse?
The website detailing Ohio's laws and rules outlines the basics of descent and distribution in the event that your spouse died without a will. If there are no surviving relatives other than yourself, then you are eligible to receive the entirety of the estate after any debts and expenses are paid from the estate. If you and your spouse have surviving children where you are both the biological or adopted parents of the children, then you also receive the entirety of the estate.
However, if your spouse has one surviving child that is not your natural or adoptive child, then you receive the first twenty thousand dollars plus one half of the estate, with the rest granted to the child. If multiple children remain from the marriage, things get more complicated. If you, as the surviving spouse, are the natural or adoptive parent of one but not all of the children, you receive the first sixty thousand dollars plus one third of the estate; if you are not the natural or adoptive parent of any of the children, you will receive the first twenty thousand dollars plus one third of the estate. All else is distributed among the children evenly.
This is an informational post that should not be used as actionable legal advice.