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Estate Planning

Ohio Estate Planning Lawyer in Columbus, OH

Deciding how you’d like your estate managed after you pass away may feel confronting, and it’s an easy task to set aside. But formalizing those important estate planning decisions now can save your loved ones much confusion, conflict, and financial hardship later on. 

Estate planning, or the legal process of formalizing how assets will be distributed in the event of one’s demise, is something many people avoid doing. What happens to our assets after we die isn’t always the easiest issue to contemplate. But with the help of an experienced Columbus estate planning lawyer, probate and estate plans don’t need to be a difficult or painful task. And the estate planning process can bring a wealth of benefits for the family of the deceased, including greater clarity in the handling of a Will, less conflict within the family, and even reduced estate and inheritance taxes.

Our Columbus estate planning attorneys at Sheppard Law Offices can help clients successfully plan how their estate will be handled. With three locations across Central Ohio, we’re readily available to guide our clients through the process, so they can gain the reassurance that their estate affairs are in order with minimal stress and disruption to their loved one’s daily life.

Why do I need an Ohio estate planning lawyer?

Dealing with a loved one’s passing is always going to be distressing. But without clear estate guidance in place, a difficult situation can rapidly escalate into tension and conflict. Emotions run high during a time of grief, and the fallout from a perceived mishandling of a deceased loved one’s wishes can be devastating to a family’s dynamic — especially if the dispute ends up in an Ohio Probate court.

What happens during probate?

The probate law is the legal procedure in which regional courts process and determine if a last will and testament is valid. Assets such as estate are usually brought up in these procedures. The probate process ensures that the person’s assets are divided correctly between different beneficiaries.

In a proper probate proceeding, the following are usually brought up for consideration:

  • The property by the deceased in question having a “Payable on Death” or “Transferable on Death” document.
  • A small property without a valid title document.
  • A part of the inheritance was intended for a beneficiary that is now deceased.


An estate plan shines through in these specific cases. Without an estate plan, the occurrence of legal hiccups in probate law cases spike dramatically, which usually leads to maldistribution of property. With the help of an experienced probate law attorney in Central Ohio, we can provide guidance for the probate judge and save more of your estate for your beneficiaries.

How to Protect Your Loved Ones with an Estate Plan

If your’re unsure whether creating an estate plan is the right tool for you and your family, below are some of the ways your estate plan can protect your loved ones.

Your last will & testament allows for an easier probate process.

Having a proper will can allow your loved ones to undergo a smooth and proper probate law procedure. Your will allows your executor to proceed with your estate administration according to your specific requests, making sure that even after your death, you have a voice in the matter. The will is key in every estate plan so that your loved ones receive your estate the way you intended it to happen. 

Living trusts can help your family skip probate.

Another important document that you can consider is a Living Trust. Trusts are basic documents that could indicate how you want to divide your property, usually after an unfortunate event like death. The type of trust that is used in probate law avoidance is called a revocable living trust. In a living trust, as the name suggests, the individual writes their trust while they are still living. After doing so, they appoint trustees that could serve as their substitute if an inevitable accident leads to death or debilitation.

The biggest difference in this set-up is that it is possible to name alternate beneficiaries, which reduces the discussion in your probate proceeding. This document is usually prepared by signing a Declaration of Trust. This is usually written between spouses to ensure a concordance with other probate-avoidance documents.

The right plan can reduce taxes on your estate.

Aside from the emotional incentives for clear estate planning, there are several decidedly pragmatic reasons to set your affairs in order. Chief among these is taxation. Your estate may be subject to both federal and Ohio state estate and income taxes, and without careful management, the impact of these tax codes can be financially significant. 

A durable POA protects your wishes in unexpected circumstances.

To give your documents staying power, our Ohio attorneys at the law firm can assist you in creating a durable power of attorney for financial management. Given that it is impossible to keep our Wills and Trusts updated all the time, our chosen successor trustee does not have the capacity to manage non declared assets. Using the durable power of attorney, the authority to manage those unincluded assets can be given back to your trustee. 

This can also apply to scenarios wherein you have a specific directive when it comes to life-saving treatments. For example, if you would like to not be kept under artificial life-support systems, you can craft a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. With the knowledge of an attorney familiar with family law and estate law, it is possible to cover all your bases while you are still well.

Take intestate succession laws into account.

Although these are general scenarios, there are also state intestate succession laws to consider. When an Ohio resident dies without having left a Will, Title 21 of the Ohio Revised Code will dictate how assets are divided. Your family’s wishes may bear little to no impact on those decisions. This can add significant complexity to the lives of any family. Still, these problems are greatly compounded if you have had children across multiple marriages, or if you seek to divide your assets across both family and close friends. 

Having wills and trusts in place ensures that your critical asset decisions remain exactly that: your decision.

Are there benefits to having an estate plan now?

It’s also worth acknowledging the immense positive impact that estate planning can have on your and your family’s well-being not just in the (hopefully distant) future, but right now. While planning your next big vacation or home purchase may be a lot more fun, it’s difficult to place a dollar value on peace of mind.

Ensure that your children and dependents will be cared for.

Wills and Trusts are not only foolproof ways to protect your loved ones, they also help you plan ahead during unfortunate circumstances. A guardianship is a legal relationship that is assigned either by a Will or by the court to an individual or an institution to take care of children or adults who cannot live on their own. This is extremely important in child custody cases, where your Will would allow you to make your voice heard. This is also important in elder law proceedings when an elderly is left alone, wherein the appointed guardian remains under scrutiny by the court until the child becomes of legal age.

Avoid conservatorship if you become incapacitated.

Aside from avoiding probate, a living trust can also allow you to avoid conservatorships once unfortunate incidents happen. A conservatorship is similar to a guardianship, in a sense that it is also part of elder law proceedings. The difference lies in the intended goal of a conservator. A conservator is appointed to take care of a conservatee, usually an elderly or impaired individual who the court deems unable to manage their own estate. By planning ahead, you are rest assured that even in your old age, your family will still be able to rely on you.

Call our Columbus Estate Planning Lawyer in Ohio!

Carefully plan out how your estate will be handled means that you and your family can stop worrying about the unknown and get on with the joys of living. If you wish to meet with an estate planning lawyer near you, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Sheppard Law Offices has experienced estate plan attorneys in four Ohio locations, including Columbus, Mount Vernon, and Newark. 

Our Estate Planning Attorneys Serve the Following Areas

Sheppard Law Offices, Co., L.P.A. serves individuals, families, and small businesses throughout central Ohio, and the state of Ohio. With estate planning and probate offices in the following.

We represent clients in several counties in Ohio, including Franklin County, Delaware County, Licking County, Knox County, Stark County, and Summit County, as well as in communities such as Columbus, Dublin, Upper Arlington, Westerville, Newark, Granville, Utica, Mount Vernon, Massillon, Medina, Barberton, Dover, and New Philadelphia.

Our Columbus Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help!

Sheppard Law Office can make the estate planning process easy for you. Available across any of our three Ohio locations in Columbus, Mt Vernon, and Newark, our team of probate, estate planning, and tax attorneys can offer you clear and compassionate legal advice seasoned by decades of practical experience and a deep understanding of Ohio inheritance laws. 

Contact Sheppard Law Offices today to schedule your free consultation.

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