Estate Planning FAQ

Estate PlanningWhat is estate planning?

With proper planning you can protect your family and achieve your personal goals in the face of serious illness, incapacity, or death. A well-designed plan can be prepared to minimize the burden on your loved ones when you are severely disabled or die. An estate plan will make sure that your assets pass to your intended beneficiaries upon your death.  Such planning is particularly important if you have loved ones that are young children and/or have special needs. Estate planning can also minimize taxes and expenses.   Estate planning is critical for small business owners.

Wills, Trusts, Financial Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, and Advance Directives are often a part of a well-designed estate plan and can be prepared with your preferences in mind.  See our checklist of important estate planning tools.

Why should you have a will?

There are a number of  good reasons, which include but are not limited to the following:

  • to direct how your property should be distributed when you die, particularly any family heirlooms or items of special meaning
  • to designate who should be appointed as executor of your estate.
  • to give your executor the power to sell certain property or continue to conduct your business.
  • to request that your executor serve without bond, generally saving that expense for the estate.
  • to designate a guardian for any minor children.
  • to create a trust to provide for minor children until they reach a certain age, or to direct probate assets to an already existing trust.

If you do not have a will your property will be distributed pursuant to the statute of descent and distribution (Revised Code Section 2105.06).

 

Should I have a trust?

The answer is: It Depends.  Persons with a large estate should definitely consider creating a trust. Particularly if there is a chance your estate may wind up paying federal estate taxes.  Also if you wish to donate a substantial portion of your estate to a charitable organization you should consider all the gifting options that trusts provide.

There are a number of reasons people create trusts for estate planning purposes, including the following:

  • To avoid probate
  • To plan for potential incapacity of the trust creator
  • To minimize estate taxes
  • To keep family matters private
  • For broad estate planning flexibility
  • To provide for loved ones with special needs
  • To provide for children of prior marriage(s)
  • To protect assets from children’s creditors or spouses
  • For a smoother transition of an ongoing small business
  • To give a lasting gift to a charitable organization