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Protecting Your Estate Plan

Posted on in Estate Planning

Wadsworth Estate Planning LawyerMany people work hard all of their adult lives, saving for the future and for their families. When the time comes to finally retire, they may have saved a significant “nest egg” and are secure in the knowledge that their family will be taken care of should anything happen to them. However, there are important issues that people often do not even consider when they are thinking about their estate plans. This is where a skilled estate planning attorney can help.

Estate Planning Considerations with Adult Children

When you sit down with your attorney to work out your estate plan, you will likely be surveying things based on the current situation. For example, your adult children may be happily married with children of their own and you likely consider their spouse as one of your own children.

But what happens if – after you pass, and your adult child has inherited that significant amount of money you have left them – they and their spouse decide to divorce. Will their spouse get half of that nest egg in the divorce settlement?

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Wadsworth Estate Planning LawyerWhen people begin the process of estate planning, they often have many questions about what course of action would be in their best interest, or in the best interests of their surviving family members and loved ones. One frequently asked question asks what the difference is between a simple will and a living trust. Is one option a better choice than the other? The answer to these questions really depends on your particular situation, but for most typical family situations a good choice is to use a living trust to transfer your property upon your death.

When you prepare a will as your sole means of transferring your property upon your death, your will must go through the probate court, which can be complicated, and your surviving family members could end up fighting over your will once you are gone. However, using a revocable living trust, which an Ohio estate planning attorney can prepare while you are still alive, can help your family avoid probate after you pass on. Individuals who are looking to exercise more control over their property may find that a living trust is a useful estate planning tool.

Advantages of Establishing a Living Trust

Below are just a few of the advantages of using a living trust over a will:

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Wadsworth Estate Planning LawyerAn executor is in charge of administering an estate after an individual passes away. Estate administration can involve many different responsibilities, including managing any investments owned by the decedent and paying any outstanding debts. An executor also is responsible for distributing the remaining assets in the estate according to the decedent’s wishes stipulated in their will and other estate planning tools. The decedent usually names who they want to serve as executor in their will.

Role of an Executor

The first task as executor of an estate is usually locating the decedent’s will. The executor will also need to obtain several certified copies of the death certificate in order to provide to financial institutions, insurance companies, and certain government agencies.

The executor is also responsible for notifying all creditors, as well as anyone who is named as an heir in the will. He or she is also tasked with coming up with a complete inventory of all of the estate’s assets, debt, income, and expenses.

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Brunswick Estate Planning LawyerA crucial part of the estate planning process involves the management of money and assets to ensure that a person will be able to provide for both themselves and their family members. Trusts can be one of the most useful tools for doing so. Assets that are held in a trust will be owned by the trust itself, and a trustee will manage the trust and distribute the assets according to specific instructions. Passing assets to beneficiaries through a trust can often be done much more quickly, efficiently, and privately than by leaving property to loved ones in a will. There are multiple types of trusts available, and understanding the best ways to use these tools can ensure that a person’s and family’s needs will be met.

Common Types of Trusts

  • Revocable living trusts - With these trusts, the settlor who creates the trust will be able to change the terms of the trust if need be, and they may also act as the trustee, ensuring that the assets will be managed and distributed correctly. The settlor may also be a beneficiary, allowing them to make use of certain assets to meet their own needs while they are still alive, while ensuring that a successor trustee will distribute the remaining assets to other beneficiaries after their death.

  • Irrevocable trusts - In some cases, it may be beneficial to completely remove assets from the settlor’s control, while providing instructions for how assets will be used. This may ensure that assets will not be subject to estate taxes, and it can also protect assets from claims by creditors.

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wooster estate planning lawyerWhen a person dies, the executor or administrator of their estate will file their last will and testament in probate court. During this process, the executor or administrator will oversee the deceased person’s final affairs, including performing an inventory of their property and assets, making payments to creditors, and distributing their assets to the beneficiaries named in their will. In some cases, disputes may arise among the deceased person’s beneficiaries regarding the distribution of assets. However, a will can only be contested in certain cases, and the parties in these types of disputes will need to work with an attorney to address the validity of their loved one’s will.

Grounds for Contesting a Will

Disagreements between a person’s heirs may arise when a person believes that they should receive certain assets or because they do not believe that the will accurately reflected the testator’s wishes (the person who created the will). If a person wishes to contest a will, they must do so within three months after being notified that the will has been filed in probate court. A will may be contested based on:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity - When signing their will, a person should have a full understanding of the extent of the assets they own and the decisions being made about the distribution of their assets to their beneficiaries. If the testator was not of sound mind or did not fully understand the terms of their will, the will may be invalidated. For example, if a person had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia before they signed their will, they may not have had the testamentary capacity to understand the decisions being made.

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