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Dayton, Ohio Probate and Business Law Blog

Estate planning myths are contradicted by factual knowledge

The best way to do estate planning in Ohio is with the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney. The process is complicated, may involve tax considerations and provides various choices that can best be made in consultation with a professional. Surprisingly, over half of all Americans don't have even a will. That may be because people believe some of the common urban myths about estate planning. In reality, however, it is a highly beneficial process that can preserve one's assets and distribute them at death as desired.

Another myth is that it is too complicated and time-consuming. However, a few meeting with the attorney, along with a financial advisor if desired, can culminate in a fully informed and effective plan geared toward one's particular circumstances. Once a plan is in place, there will be peace of mind in knowing that certain important protections are being utilized, and that the assets will be distributed as desired at death.

Estate planning can prevent some but not all family conflicts

Ohio probate courts each year host numerous legal conflicts about whether the maker of a will or trust was competent when executing the legal instrument, or in the case of a living trust was competent throughout its revisions and administration. A will or trust can be struck down if the maker is proved to have been mentally incompetent or swayed by undue influence in the making of the will or trust. The preparation of estate planning documents facilitates fewer conflicts among heirs. However, in some cases where competency is hotly contested by battling family members, litigation may be the only avenue to resolution.

This problem is currently faced by 88-year-old former astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon in 1969. Two of Aldrin's children have petitioned the state probate court to have Aldrin declared incompetent and have themselves named as guardians. They allege that he is suffering from dementia and is easily vulnerable to outside influence.

Estate planning goes beyond having only a simple will

Many people in Ohio have a will prepared but have not taken the additional steps of establishing an estate plan. A simple will may be inadequate to cover all of the issues that may arise in the future. Accordingly, estate experts suggest that the individual or married couple meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss the features and prospects for an estate plan.

An estate plan addresses the question of what a person wants to happen after he or she dies. It includes the questions of why a person wants it to happen and who will assure that it happens. An effective plan will provide clarity about the details and why they are desired. This may be important in multi-marriage families with numerous children. The creation of a true plan will apprise one's heirs why the gifting has been carried out in the manner chosen by the maker.

Probate requires disposition of the decedent???s real estate

The personal representative of the decedent's estate in Ohio is responsible for managing and administering the assets of the estate. This includes the real estate owned by the decedent at his or her death. In some cases, other persons will be residing in the decedent's residence or in other real estate owned by the decedent. The personal representative, who is called the executor when there is a will, must dispose of the real estate during the probate process according to the will or according to state law where there is no will.

In some cases, the executor will file to evict residents of estate property where they are not cooperative in vacating the premises. This is not always appropriate, however, especially if the resident is a tenant with a lease. Where the tenant is thus protected, the executor must abide by the terms of the lease and send advance notice to vacate the premises when the lease approaches its expiration date.

Is your family fighting over an inheritance?

Experiencing the death of a family member is a traumatic and stressful event, which can often be made much worse when other family members are in conflict over matters such as the will or inheritance of the deceased. It can be incredibly difficult to have to deal with family infighting in the midst of your mourning and grief.

The sooner you take action to resolve the family conflict surrounding a contested will or an inheritance, the better. The conflict can grow and worsen if you decide to take a wait-and-see approach. Your first contact should be to a qualified attorney who can analyze your case and help you build a strategy to resolve the conflict.

Probate litigation gears up in estate of deceased football star

Estate disputes in Ohio and elsewhere can be complicated and involve a web of issues that may take some painstaking analyses by the courts to unravel and resolve. This is true of the probate litigation that has emanated from the estate of football star Aaron Hernandez, who died by suicide in prison last year. His conviction was vacated by an appellate court after Hernandez died.

The state courts have put a hold on various monetary sums that were collected by the estate pending resolution of competing claims for the money. Recently, an attorney for the Hernandez estate petitioned the probate court to release $100,000 for payment of fees and expenses incurred in administering the estate. The family of the deceased man who Hernandez had originally been convicted of killing is opposing the petition.

Estate planning can avoid conflicts over the family home

Many Americans in Ohio and throughout the country believe that they don't have enough assets to necessitate estate planning. However, where an individual or married couple have a home, particularly one with a low or paid-off mortgage balance, potential complications make it important enough to go over with an estate planning attorney to assure that there will be no problems in the future. One way to cultivate dissension among heirs is to ignore the house as an important reason to make an estate plan.

When a death occurs to the last living parent, discord can often occur over the family home. Where there are several children, it may be prudent to have a family meeting to discuss how the home will be treated in the person's last will and testament. Where there are other assets, the whole picture and design of asset distribution can be discussed.

Estate planning is necessary for both large and small estates

Estate planning in Ohio involves the process of preparing a strategy, and the legal framework to support it, for the management and disposal of a person's assets both during life and after death. In that process, planning attempts to maximize the value of the assets and minimize the impact of applicable taxes and fees. Those with small financial holdings are just as needful of estate planning as are those with a large body of assets.

The most well-known estate planning tool is a will. Surprisingly, over half of adult Americans don't even have a will. Most states have statutes that dictate the order of distribution of a person's assets after death if there is no will. This is not desirable for both those with large estates and those with modest ones. The state's distribution schemata may differ greatly from what the individual would have chosen in a personally prepared will.

Americans without estate planning risk unwanted outcomes

Surveys consistently show that a majority of Americans, including in Ohio, do not have in place sufficient legal measures to take care of all eventualities in the case of incapacitation or death. Elderly persons over 65 are also vulnerable to elder law fraud and abuse at the hands of unscrupulous third parties. There are now platforms and programs that are designed to create a storage place online for one's estate planning and other important documents.

Online storage is a convenient tool for keeping all of one's financial matters and estate planning instruments in one place. This should not be done, however, without making sure that the executor and trustees are duly informed and provided with copies of the relevant documents. The copies can be accompanied by a letter of instructions. It is also important these days to inform the online provider of precisely what information and documents are to be released to one's trustees and personal representatives and under what circumstances.

Probate litigation over royalty payments is temporarily on hold

Estate disputes in Ohio and other states can involve the ongoing responsibilities of an estate's executor to the decedent's family. The most famous estate dispute involving an entertainer in recent years has been the dispute that arose over Prince's death without a will, leaving even the identity of all his heirs in doubt. However, disputes and probate litigation can arise when the artist dies with a will, as shown in the estate of famous blues musician Muddy Waters.

Waters died back in 1983. His manager, Scott Cameron, was the executor of his estate. In that capacity, he was responsible for sending royalty payments to Waters' family members. Cameron himself died in 2015. The family members successfully petitioned to reopen the estate when they allegedly discovered irregularities in the royalty payments they received.

  • Ohio State Bar Association | Connect.Advance.Succeed
  • Federal Bar Association | ORG Jan 5th 1920
  • Dayton Bar Association 1883
  • Super Lawyers
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