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Mayfield Heights Estate Planning and Elder Law Blog

Picking a trustee

Sometimes, people here in Ohio end up including trusts in their estate plans. Trusts can be aimed towards a variety of goals. How successful a trust ultimately is at achieving its intended goals can be affected by many things. This includes how the trustee acts.

The trustee is the person in charge of managing the property put into the trust, pursuant to the trust’s terms. So, who a person picks as trustee can have very big impacts.

Have you lost a relative who had no will or trust?

If a parent or relative has recently passed away, you and your family could be overcome with emotion. Finding out that the deceased has left no will or trust can make this heartache even more painful.

It is estimated 60 percent of Americans do not have wills, according to a survey. Do not worry. You are not in a unique position. With the right advice, your family can tackle this difficult challenge.

Will our LGBTQ elders face discrimination in nursing home care?

As we celebrate Pride Month, it's a good time to ask ourselves how the LGBTQ community is doing in terms of long term care planning and elder law concerns. Unfortunately, there is reason to be concerned.

According to McKnight's Long-Term Care News, over 1 million people in the U.S. who are over age 65 identify as LGBTQ. According to an AARP survey, two-thirds of LGBTQ adults worry that a long-term care facility might subject them to harassment, limit their services, or refuse to care for them at all.

Estate planning errors to avoid

Some older Ohio residents may be among the 40 percent that Wells Fargo says do not have documents in place to protect themselves if they become incapacitated. More than 780 people 60 and older and nearly 800 adult children ages 45 to 69 participated in the survey.

At a minimum, Wells Fargo recommends that people have a will, a financial power of attorney and documents that appoint someone to manage their health care. A will names which assets will go to which beneficiaries. Some people may want to use a trust as part of their estate plan as well.

Trusts: an important estate planning tool

People in Ohio who to protect their legacies and care for their families in the future can utilize a number of instruments to pass on their properties. Trusts are one of the most popular estate planning tools because of their flexibility and wide utility that allows people to govern the distribution of their assets while protecting them from taxation. By making use of a trust, a person can put precise directions in place regarding his or her property to benefit his or her family in ways that could be much more difficult to achieve with a simple will.

Trusts can also help people plan for taxes as they carry out wealth transfer to their heirs. Trusts can be named as beneficiaries of key assets like IRAs or life insurance policies, allowing them to be substantially funded and grow with protections from taxation. In addition, a trust can help maximize the assets that beneficiaries receive while limiting their tax obligations.

Estate planning errors to avoid

Not having a will can be a major estate planning error. If an Ohio resident dies without a will, assets will be distributed according to state law. In such cases, loved ones may have to spend time and potential inheritance money sorting through the probate process.

Another common error is failing to plan for incapacity. An estate holder should have documents that appoint someone to manage their financial affairs and health care in case they become incapacitated. It may also be a mistake to try drawing up these and other documents without the assistance of an attorney. Even minor errors could cause an estate plan to be declared invalid.

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Planning for incapacity is prudent even for the young

Ohio residents may think of debilitating medical conditions like Alzheimer's disease when the issue of incapacity is raised, but car accidents or other unforeseen events can leave even younger individuals who enjoy good health unable to care for themselves or make important decisions. While becoming incapacitated may be difficult to talk or even think about for most people, taking steps to prepare for the worst possible outcomes in life could help to make things easier for friends and family members during extremely difficult times.

Drafting certain legal documents also provides individuals with a certain degree of control over their financial affairs and medical treatment even if they become incapacitated. Health care proxies authorize trusted individuals to make decisions about what type of treatment options should be pursued and may include specific instructions about when further efforts to prolong life should be abandoned. These documents may also instruct doctors and nurses not to attempt to resuscitate patients who have gone into cardiac arrest. Living wills can also be used to grant trusted individuals the authority to make end-of-life decisions.

How to create a digital estate plan

When Ohio residents create an estate plan, they might also want to consider whether they need one for digital assets as well. People might not think of social media or email accounts as assets, but they may need to leave instructions about what should be done with these. In some cases, such as with a cryptocurrency account or even a domain name, the asset might have significant value.

The first step is to make a list of all digital assets. People should include passwords or access codes and consider who they want to manage the various assets. If they know someone who is particularly tech savvy, they might want to appoint that person as digital executor to manage all the accounts.

About the probate process

Ohio residents with estate plans should have an understanding of probate. It is a legal process that can validate the last will and testament left by a decedent. If the deceased has no will, his or her estate will have to go through the probate process.

During probate, a decedent's assets are located and valued, and the final taxes and debts are paid. Once all the outstanding financial obligations have been settled, the remaining assets of the estate will be distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries or heirs as stipulated in the decedent's will or as determined by the court if there was no will left behind.

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