Ohio Revised Code Update: Effective April 6, 2017

Effective April 6, 2017, Sub. House Bill No. 432 amends Ohio Revised Code regarding the age limit for custodial accounts, depositing wills with a probate court after the death of a testator, number and value of automobiles a surviving spouse may elect to take and a fiduciary’s access to digital assets of a principal or decedent.

Ohio joins Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, Tennessee and Washington in allowing property to be held in a custodial account until a minor is 25 years of age. The Ohio Transfers to Minors Act ("OTMA") allows a person 18 years or older to make a gift or transfer property to a minor and have the property held by a custodian designated by the person making the gift or transfer, for the minor’s benefit, until the minor turns 21 years of age. Sub. House Bill 432 amends the OTMA to allow a custodian to hold such gifted or transferred property until a specified age of the minor not to exceed 25 years. Pursuant to the amended R.C. §5814.09(B) the following language must be included in gifting or transfer document: "as custodian for (name of minor) until age (specify age) under the Ohio Transfers to Minors Act" to specify when the custodial account is to be terminated. If this language is not included in the gifting or transfer document, the minor will be entitled to take the property at age 21, free of the custodian.

Ohio now allows a will to be deposited with a probate court after the death of a testator and expressly states such a will is not a public record until offered for probate. Ohio law allows a testator to deposit his or her will, or have his or will deposited, with the testator’s local probate court. This provides the benefit of safekeeping the document, as a will is less likely to be lost or damaged in the care of the probate court than in a person’s home. Sub. House Bill 432 expands this right by amending R.C. §2107.07 and R.C. §2107.08: a will may now be deposited in the probate court before or after the death of a testator even if the will is not offered for probate. This may benefit a testator whose estate passes outside of probate through trusts, TOD designations or other nonprobate methods of transfer. Because of this addition to the Revised Code, a will can be kept safe at the probate court in case additional assets are discovered and the estate needs to be opened. Additionally, the Revised Code provides privacy for testators who deposit their wills, as it now expressly states a deposited will is not a public record until an application is filed to probate the will.

Ohio now allows a surviving spouse a maximum of "one or more" automobiles with a total value no more than $65,000.00. Sub. House Bill 432 amends R.C. §2106.18(A) to allow a surviving spouse to select one or more, rather than the previous maximum of two, automobiles of the deceased spouse provided such automobiles have not already been transferred via joint ownership with right survivorship, TOD beneficiarydesignation or specificallydisposed of by a testamentary disposition. Additionally, the maximum aggregate value of such automobiles has been increased from $40,000.00 to $65,000.00.

Ohio adopts the Revised Uniform Access to Digital Assets Act. Sub. House Bill 432 adds R.C. §2137.01 to§2137.18 to allow fiduciaries, such as an agent under a power of attorney, executor or administrator of an estate, a guardian or trustee to access, terminate or suspend, or disclose information regarding the digital assets of a principal or decedent. This new Revised Code section specifies how a fiduciary may access such digital assets and provides an order of priority in cases where the principal or decedent provided contradictory directions regarding disclosure of his or her digital assets.

Jennifer E. Peck, Esq.
Bryan C. Palmer, Esq.
Solomon, Steiner & Peck, Ltd.