We provide a diverse array of estate planning and elder law content here on this blog. In most instances, we focus on a particular important topic because many people are looking for specific information. This being stated, it is useful to obtain a basic understanding of estate planning in a broader sense by reading a single page.
In this blog post, we will provide an overview using a hypothetical interaction between a curious client and an estate planning attorney.
What would happen if I pass away without any estate planning documents at all?
Under these circumstances, the probate court would step in to provide supervision. A personal representative would be appointed to handle the estate administration tasks. Final bills would be paid, and ultimately, assets would be distributed in accordance with the intestate succession rules of the state of Ohio.
Intestacy should certainly be avoided, because it makes the estate administration process more complicated and time-consuming. It is also quite possible that the way that the state must distribute your assets would not be in accordance with your true wishes.
If you are not rich, you would use a will rather than a trust, right?
A lot of people are under this impression, and there are trusts that are utilized by wealthy individuals that have complex concerns. This being stated, most people that are going to have a reasonable store of assets to pass along can benefit from the utilization of a revocable living trust.
When you establish this type of trust, you can act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are alive. You name successors to take over these roles after you are gone, and you leave behind your final wishes in the trust declaration.
After your passing, the trustee would follow these instructions and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. These transfers would not be subject to probate and the time consumption and expenses that go along with it. Aside from probate avoidance, there are a number of other benefits, including the ability to include spendthrift protections.
Can you plan your own estate with a DIY will or trust download?
The short answer is yes, there is no law against it. However, you are taking a very big risk if you go this route, and it is completely unnecessary.
Your estate will represent the legacy that you are passing down to your loved ones. This is a profound act, so you should certainly make sure that you are going about things the right way.
Legal experts that have examined do-it-yourself wills have pointed out potential flaws, and of course, as a layperson, how do you know which asset transfer vehicle is right for you and your family? There are options, and there are things to consider beyond the monetary aspect.
When you create an estate plan with the assistance of an attorney, you will walk away with a custom crafted plan that ideally suits your needs. You can subsequently go forward with peace of mind.
During the end of my life, I may become incapacitated to one extent or another. Can I prepare for this eventuality in advance in my estate plan?
Yes, an incapacity component should be a part of any comprehensive, well-constructed estate plan. If you have a living trust, you could name a disability trustee to act as the trustee if you ever become unable to make sound financial decisions.
There are documents called durable powers of attorney that will be part of an incapacity plan as well. You would include a durable power of attorney for health care that empowers an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. A durable power of attorney for property can be added.
A living will is another document that should be included. Terminal patients that cannot communicate can sometimes be kept alive through the use of artificial life-sustaining measures. With a living will, you can state your personal preferences with regard to life support.
Is estate planning representation affordable?
Most people are pleasantly surprised when they find out about the costs that are involved. Plus, in the long run, the rock solid estate plan may actually preserve resources that could have been lost.
Download Our Estate Planning Worksheet!
Our estate planning attorneys have developed a worksheet that you can go through to gain a more complete understanding of the process. It is free, and you can visit our worksheet download page to obtain access to your copy.