Estate Planning

probateHave you given thought to protecting your assets? What will happen to your wealth and your family when you pass on?

Although the subject is often a morbid one that doesn’t get thoroughly discussed, if you don’t have a good answer to both of those questions, it’s time that you do.

Everyone needs an estate plan – including both you and I. We all have property, and while we like to take care of it, one day we will not be here to do so. At that time, we will have to pass that responsibility onto someone else. Someone will receive our cars, our checking accounts, our family heirlooms, and our homes. An effective estate plan does the following:

 – Protects your hard-earned wealth from federal and state inheritance taxes. Although Ohio abolished its estate tax effective January 1, 2013, all estates can still be subject to the Federal estate tax. The rate has varied in recent years but has usually been somewhere between 35% and 55% of all income. As of 2015, it is 40%. It is unconscionable that a beloved family member must visit both the undertaker and the tax man on the same day. An effective estate plan can reduce or eliminate this tax liability and ensure that your hard-earned money stays rightfully within your family.

– Keeps you in control of your assets, even after your death. The primary purpose of estate planning is to distribute your real and personal property to the heirs of your choosing. After all, we’re talking about your property here. Without an estate plan, you will have no control – no say in who receives your property, how much they will receive, or how much winds up in Uncle Sam’s pockets. An effective estate plan gives you the power to choose exactly what happens to your property.

– An effective estate plan is up to date. In order to best serve your wishes, an effective estate plan must be current with Federal, State, and all applicable local laws regarding taxes, exemptions, and the continually changing probate process. The Federal death tax rates and exemptions are changed annually on January 1 of each year. Ohio repealed its estate tax in 2013. Other states still have estate taxes, and the amount of Federal deduction you get from that, if it hits you, changes regularly. There are a number of proposed tax hikes on inherited property on the table. An effective estate plan is updated regularly to reflect the changes and maximize your ability to control your property.

It is difficult to know exactly what is necessary for your personal situation, as everyone is unique. A young professional wanting to get an early start on his or her future planning will likely need a different estate plan than a retired couple that has accumulated significant wealth. Regardless of your situation, a trusted estate planning attorney can help you tailor your estate plan to your specific needs and answer many of the common questions such as:

– What is the difference between a will and a trust, and which do I need?
– Do I need a financial power of attorney or a health care power of attorney?
– Do I need a living will?
– What is the probate process in Ohio and how do I avoid it?

Other common areas in estate planning include guardianships, executorships, the probate process, Medicare and Medicaid planning, and nursing home arrangements. An effective estate plan will address all of these issues if necessary.

Preparing for death is not something to avoid. By avoiding about the subject, we give death power over us. It is my goal to help bring you some peace of mind and a level of comfort through the estate planing process – so you are able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show with the comfort of knowing that your affairs are going to be taken care of when the time comes to move on.

As a licensed attorney in Ohio, I am offering my services to you in order to best serve you and your heirs. I am eager to hear from you and to help answer any questions that may come to mind… while these are serious matters, they should not be a concern.

If you are interested in discussing estate planning any further, feel free to contact me at any time.