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Estate planning includes the use of trusts to avoid probate

Probate of an estate in Ohio begins after an owner of assets dies. The owner may die with or without a will. If there is no will, but there are assets in the decedent's name, an estate must be opened. With no will, estates must follow state statutory rules and may not try to satisfy the decedent's wishes. The decedent's wishes would be honored if estate planning had been conducted.

In the estate planning process, a will and other important documents can be drawn up. With a will, the choices will be the testator's and not the state's. In addition, some people may decide also to make a revocable living trust and put some or all assets in the trust during life. In that way, probate can be avoided because the assets in a living trust are exempt from probate.

Other popular tools can also be used to avoid the probate process at death. One widely used tool is to put assets in joint ownership during life. Where a husband and wife, for example, own real estate in both names as joint tenants or as tenants by the entireties, the deceased spouse's share will pass immediately to the surviving spouse by operation of law. This is one of the easiest and most convenient ways to pass on property to a next of kin without putting it through probate.

There are also transfer on death designations for accounts such as pensions, profit sharing, 401(k), IRA, life insurance policies and most investment accounts. The person designated as the beneficiary will own the account immediately at the time of the owner's death by operation of law. The Ohio estate planning attorney is an integral part of the estate planning team. The major decisions on what course to take will be decided by the individual or married couple in conjunction with the attorney. 

Source: bizjournals.com, "What an estate plan can do for you", Wonsun Willey, Feb. 1, 2018

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