What Estate Planning Tools Can Help Avoid Probate in Ohio?
There are numerous estate planning tools that parties can use. The first step in estate planning is determining what the assets are. The reason we want to avoid probate is to protect those assets so that they can be passed to a spouse or to children. Based on the assets that we’re trying to protect, there are different estate planning tools that can be utilized (there is not just one universal estate planning tool). If somebody has a house that they want to protect, there is a Transfer-On-Death Designation Affidavit. If a party is trying to protect a boat or a vehicle, then there are Transfer-On-Death beneficiary forms that can be filled out at the BMV. If there are life estate policies, bank accounts, checking accounts—it depends on the type of account, but usually these can be made payable on death to beneficiaries the party has named.
In addition, we always recommend that the party or client drafts a will. The will is a catch-all document, which means if a spouse forgets to put his wife on the beneficiary form or if there is something wrong with the paperwork, the will is a backup document to help through the probate process.
Is a Will Enough on Its Own?
The answer depends on what the parties want to protect. Some clients do not have any assets, but we still want a will just in case there might be something lingering out there that they forgot about or didn’t follow through with. Naming an executor in a will helps the probate case go a lot faster and smoother in probate court. Whether or not clients have enough assets to merit further estate planning, we recommend a will for absolutely everybody as a backup catch-all document.
What Is a Living Will and What Is Its Purpose?
A living will is a document where you name contacts to act as your agent. In my office, we do the healthcare power of attorney and the living will together. (They are separate documents, but we keep them stapled together.)
A living will comes into play when you are in a hospice state. It directs your physician on whether you want your agent, the person that you named on your behalf, to make medical decisions for you, including decisions on life-sustaining or life-prolonging treatments.
What Are the Different Types of Trusts That Should Be Considered? Do I Need More Than One Type of Trust?
A lot of clients are not aware that there are so many different types of trusts. Trusts can be very complicated, and I always refer back to what assets you are trying to protect.
There is a special needs trust that I see used a lot when a person cannot handle their finances due to some kind of illness or injury. Another one that I see is a living trust, usually created for a couple. Spouses have a living trust between the two of them, and it’s revocable, so if one spouse passes away or if they get a divorce, the trust can be modified. There are also occasions where I create an irrevocable trust, which generally cannot be modified, for a client.
There are very specific reasons for why you need different types of trusts. I get a lot of clients who say they want a trust but are unsure what the purpose is or what type of trust they need. Creating the right trust is a very complex process. The most common I see are the special needs trusts, living trusts, and irrevocable trusts.
If an Estate Ends Up in Probate, What Assistance Can Your Firm Lend to That Case?
Once we are hired for a probate case, we do all the paperwork, and we are there every step of the way. Clients do not understand the probate process; it is a unique court procedure that is very timely and very expensive. To help clients through, we file all the paperwork and do all the accounting—we do everything.
For more information on Estate Planning to Avoid Probate in Ohio, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (330) 222-3898 today.