Probate, Wills, Trusts and Estates

Why Make a Will?

The preparation of a will by an attorney is paramount to initial estate planning. The signed will is ambulatory and only “speaks” at the person’s death so that assets accumulated after the signing will be included in the distribution to the heirs of the signor. A will must be read by the probate judge in the county where the deceased individual resides at death so that his or her heirs receive their inheritance legally. This is what is referred to as “the probate process.” If you don’t have a will then probate assets (assets with no named beneficiary or nonprobate transfer device) will be transferred per Ohio’s Statute of Descent and Distribution. This statutory law automatically determines who inherits your estate.

The goal in estate planning is to arrange your estate so that assets flow without probate court intervention. This “nonprobate” process saves time and costs to the client. Naming beneficiaries during your lifetime on bank accounts, life insurance policies, individual retirement accounts, real estate deeds, and motor vehicles can save a client thousands of dollars when he or she expires. Proper estate planning through the use of nonprobate devices can negate the necessity of filing your will through probate court. The use of trusts are recommended for higher income clients and those clients with special needs loved ones. Inheritance tax implications have to be considered, but recent amendments to Federal and Ohio inheritance tax laws are very favorable to our clients.

 Finally, other estate planning devices include powers of attorney, powers of attorney for health care, and living wills.