One of the most common things we deal with at Sheppard Law Offices is how to deal with probate law in Ohio. Probate can be a stressful and difficult time for families, as they are dealing with the loss of a loved one in addition to complicated and confusing legal processes involving their assets.
But the reality is, you may not need a probate lawyer in Columbus – or anywhere else in Ohio – at all. With a proper estate plan, you can eliminate probate altogether – or at least make it much smoother.
Here are some of the basics about what you need to know to get your estate planning in Ohio started.
Who Needs Estate Planning in Ohio?
There’s a common misconception about estate planning for families. Movies and news would have you believe that estate planning is just for the extremely wealthy to prevent their families from squabbling over inheritance. But that’s not the case at all!
The reality is, anyone can start estate planning in Ohio. It’s never too early to start planning, and you don’t have to have a Swiss bank account for it to help you and your family. It’s a morbid thought, but the simple fact is there will come a day that your life ends, and your assets are going to become someone else’s responsibility.
The question is, do you want to leave it to your loved ones to sort out your affairs once you’re gone? Or do you want to take that burden off their shoulders by creating a comprehensive estate plan? Doing so ensures that not only are your assets being handled in the way you want, but also that the legal and financial burden is lifted from your loved ones after you pass.
So let’s say you’re ready to start estate planning in Akron. What does that actually mean for you? It’s probably less complicated than you think.
What Does Good Estate Planning in Ohio Require?
You might think the answer to “what makes a good estate plan” would be vague, but it actually comes down to a few very specific aspects.
Creating a Will or Trust
This is probably the most basic step of estate planning – creating a document that sets forth your wishes for how you want your assets to be handed down after your passing is a core component of any estate plan. Sheppard Law Offices can help you draft a legally-binding Will or Trust that reflects your wishes.
Creating Power of Attorney
This step of estate planning in Ohio ensures that someone you trust is in command of carrying out your wishes when you are unable to. Whether that’s because of injury or death, this will give your agent the power to make legal decisions on your behalf, which is an important part of being able to legally handle your assets, financial affairs, and medical decisions. In Ohio, there are two types of powers of attorney – a financial power of attorney and a healthcare power of attorney.
Some of your assets may pass to a beneficiary outside of the scope of a written Will or Trust, such as life insurance benefits or 401k assets. It is important to make sure your named beneficiaries are named on such plans, and that nothing in your written Will or Trust conflicts with the beneficiaries you’ve named. Naming different beneficiaries in different places can set up a conflict, and that’s what we want to avoid with estate planning in Ohio.
Letter of Intent
This is a simple step, but an important one. Leaving a letter or document to your beneficiaries or executor detailing your wishes can be an important part of not only making sure your wishes are clear to them, but also potentially to a court. If any part of your Ohio estate plan is in doubt or conflict at any point, these letters can clearly indicate what you intend even after you’re gone. Your Will or Trust should reference that a Letter of Intent or Separate Writing may exist.
Getting Started with your Estate Plan in Ohio
Does this all sound a little overwhelming to you? No worries, you don’t have to start with everything at once. You can contact us and have a consultation first. Everybody’s plans are different, and there are some aspects of estate planning in Ohio that you won’t necessarily need.
For example, some estate plans involve establishing guardianship over your dependents. But obviously this won’t apply to you if you have no dependents, or if they’ve grown to become independent.
You can also check for some tips on what you can do on your end to make estate planning easier. But for the complicated stuff, we’re happy to be your partner to help make things easier, so you can be at peace knowing that your loved ones will be cared for well after you’re gone.