Estate Planning is a term that has very broad connotations depending on the needs of the individual. Generally speaking, Estate Planning is the process that takes place where you put in place a carefully designed schematic to ensure that your affairs are handled the way you wish upon your disability or death.
This includes looking at your current assets to determine what you want to happen, and the means by which your goals can be accomplished. It also includes preparation of legal documentation to ensure that the person you want to make decisions on your behalf, is the one that has the legal authority to do so.
The more traditional documents we think of when discussing Estate Planning include Wills, and Trusts. These legal documents detail where your assets are to go when you pass, who will take care of any underage, or disabled wards, and in the case of Trusts, who is in charge of these undertakings, and in the case of Trusts, place additional controls or protections on the assets in the Trust.
The number one question most people have is, “Do I need an Estate Plan?” In short, the answer is probably yes. Without an Estate Plan in place you have no control over where your assets will go, and who will be in charge of handling your affairs. Additionally, if you become incapacitated due to illness or injury, a probate conservatorship may need to be initiated so the Court can appoint a guardian to handle your affairs. The process can be very intrusive and embarrassing and requires multiple Court appearances. With the proper plan in place, this can all be avoided.
A last will and testament is the most common way in which assets pass from a deceased person to their heirs. Our Portage County Estate Planning lawyers help clients with this document, making sure it is drafted and executed properly to ensure that it is valid.Estate Planning includes provisions to minimize the legal process by which your property is collected, managed and distributed after a person’s death, which is known as “probate”. Some types of property pass via operation of law, while other types are required to go through the probate process. The probate process in Ohio is usually longer and more time consuming than most people assume. Planning ahead can help minimize or even avoid some of these problems.