Mapping Your Family’s Legacy: The Art of Crafting an Estate Plan

Mapping Your Family’s Legacy: The Art of Crafting an Estate Plan

If you have young kids, it’s safe to say you have a busy life, especially during the back-to-school period as you get your kids ready for the new school year. Aside from shopping for supplies and new clothes, you’ll have to plan for school runs and after-school activities. With so much to do and juggling it with work and other responsibilities, it’s easy to forget about the future. Safeguarding your kids’ future with a comprehensive estate plan should be one of your top priorities, and there’s no better time to do it than the back-to-school period.

Why Estate Planning Is Important for Parents and Guardians

Being part of your child’s life as they grow, finish school, start working, and build a life of their own is every parent’s dream. Sadly, you may not be there for your children during all those stages.

Even still, you can protect them from unnecessary hardships with an estate plan. Contrary to what many believe, estate plans are not just for the wealthy or elderly. They’re for anyone who has people who depend on them and deeply care for them, especially children.

By crafting an estate plan, you empower yourself to make important decisions about their future and financial security, even if the unexpected occurs. Taking this crucial step demonstrates your love and commitment to securing your family’s future.

What to Include in an Estate Plan

During estate planning, there are several key elements you should consider to ensure your dependents are fully protected in your absence. They include the following:

1. A Will 

The foundation of any estate planning efforts is the will. It allows you to express your desires regarding the distribution of your assets and ensures that your children are cared for by the right people if you’re no longer there to do so yourself. Having a legally sound will is crucial, and it’s something you should prioritize as a parent or guardian should.

2. Trust for Your Children

While the will may dictate how your assets are distributed, children under 18 cannot take charge of them. Set up a trust to reduce the likelihood of disputes over your assets and protect your children’s inheritance.

It will manage your assets according to your desire until the children can assume control.

3. Designated Party With the Power of Attorney

Besides death, you may be unable to attend to your children’s needs due to incapacitation. For such situations, designate power of attorney to someone you can trust to cater to the best interest of your dependents.

Doing so will give that individual the authority to make legal and financial decisions for you, ensuring your business affairs and children’s needs are met.

4. Healthcare Directives

Another element of estate planning is issuing medical directives. Even with a will and a trusted person with power of attorney, it’s important to issue clear directives relating to your medical preferences. Along with guiding the person making decisions on your behalf, it ensures your wishes are respected.

5. Life Insurance 

When you’re no longer around to provide for your family, purchasing a life insurance policy is one of the best ways to give them financial support and stability. To ensure it adequately covers your family’s needs, review the terms carefully.

Consult an Estate Planning Attorney for Peace of Mind

It’s never a pleasant thought to imagine your children growing without you. But what’s worse is leaving them to struggle should something happen to you. Considering the stakes involved, the complexity of the process, and legal considerations, consulting with an estate planning attorney is highly recommended. 

At Brenden Kelley Law, we offer legal services to small businesses in Cleveland, OH, and the surrounding areas. From contractual matters and lawsuits to estate planning, we have a team of attorneys ready to assist you. Contact us today to get an estate planning attorney you can count on.

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Lack of Proper Will Fuels Aretha Franklin’s Estate Battle

Lack of Proper Will Fuels Aretha Franklin’s Estate Battle

A will ensures that when the time comes, your estate planning will be managed per your final wishes. Should you pass intestate (without a will), the courts get involved and assets get distributed. This is according to a myriad of state laws, a stressful process that impacts all those you leave behind.

There’s no greater example of this than the estate of R&B legend Aretha Franklin. Her passing prompted a years-long legal battle amongst her family that illustrates why it’s so important to manage formal estate planning.

The Aretha Franklin Estate Battle

Passing in 2018, the Queen of Soul left her family in a legal quagmire. They initially believed she left behind no will. According to estate law, that meant her assets would likely get split among her sons. But someone eventually discovered more than one handwritten document concerning her last wishes in the singer’s Detroit home. Two docs were wills handwritten four years apart. They created a riff as the family argued about which one was authentic. 

There were wills and paperwork, all had revisions and notes in the margins concerning inheritance terms and how they impacted beneficiaries. Franklin obviously had varying ideas about how to manage her estate. Unfortunately, she never finalized anything legally or properly. 

Without proper estate planning, the survivors reluctantly turned to the courts to help determine which will be valid.

Earlier this year, a jury agreed the newer document — written in 2014; found under a couch cushion in Franklin’s home — took precedence over the older one. (A decision not unusual in these matters.)

The Validity of Handwritten Wills

Each state has a set of guidelines based on specific laws for validating a will. In general, they require the document to have at least two neutral witnesses, the date, and all appropriate signatures. You may need notarization. It’s also a good idea to have a legal representative, the party who ensures that the will’s preparation and execution meet all obligations and avoid conflict.

Some states accept handwritten wills. Ohio is one of them. Ohio requires that the document is signed by the testator (the individual who made the will) or their representative (who doesn’t have to be a lawyer). That will also need the signatures of two competent witnesses. 

A holographic will is a handwritten will that meets all the criteria. To verify authenticity, the court may ask about witnesses and require testimony. That’s especially true if someone contests the document. The court will want authentication of the testator’s writing and signature. Depending on the circumstances, the court may want verification via identification by individuals familiar with the testator or through the expert testimony of a handwriting pro.

In Ohio, a holographic will has to satisfy the same conditions as a conventional document. Some attorneys may not support this document as they are difficult to validate before the court. These wills can also contain errors or lack clarity, all of which are pitfalls. These conditions can only undermine the deceased’s well-intentioned objectives.

Why You Want a Proper Will

With a will, there’s a clear statement of how asset distribution is to be administered. The document minimizes time in court and helps prevent time-consuming, costly disputes. In larger estates, a well-developed will may help reduce estate taxes. You can appoint an executor in the document, a trusted entity for ensuring your instructions get followed to the letter. If you do not, the court appoints someone for you, which may not be the ideal solution.

Many think wills and estate planning are only for the well to do. However, even if an individual has a modest estate and they die intestate (without a will), it can leave loved ones confused and scrambling as to what they should do. A simple will can be a detailed list of instructions that straightforwardly manage not just the future of your financial and personal affairs but the peace of mind of those left behind.

Last Thoughts

Many of us are understandably locked in the right now and not giving much thought to what could come tomorrow. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • If you were gone, who would you want to provide for and protect?
  • What do you have and who would you want to have it?
  • If there are minor children in your life, what would happen to them?
  • Whom do you trust to make sure there’s no conflict of interest in overseeing assets you leave loved ones?

These are basic questions everyone can ask because the answers are the beginning of a will’s foundation. You don’t need all the answers immediately, but the seeds build the focus for a proper will.

The idea of a will can be overwhelming. You might be hesitant to consider a future that’s distressing and potentially dark. But you should consider a future without you and what would happen too. That’s a good reason to think about estate planning. If you would like help creating an estate plan for you and your family, please contact our team at Brenden Kelley Law.

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6 Steps to Navigating the Probate Process in Ohio

6 Steps to Navigating the Probate Process in Ohio

“Probate” is the legal process of settling an individual’s estate after they pass away. In Ohio, probate is overseen by the Probate Court in the county where the deceased individual lived at the time of their death. The purpose of probate is to ensure that the deceased person’s assets are distributed according to their will or, if they did not have a will, according to Ohio state laws. When an individual passes away and leaves behind assets, those assets must go through the probate process before they can be distributed to the deceased person’s heirs or beneficiaries.

The probate process typically includes:

  1. Filing a petition with the Probate Court: The person responsible for settling the estate, known as the executor or administrator, must file a petition with the Probate Court to open the probate case. The petition will include information about the deceased person’s assets and heirs.
  2. Appointing an executor or administrator: If the deceased person left a will, the Probate Court will appoint the executor named in the will as the personal representative of the estate. If the deceased person did not leave a will, the Probate Court will appoint an administrator to handle the probate process.
  3. Notifying heirs and creditors: The executor or administrator is responsible for notifying the deceased person’s heirs and creditors of the probate case. This is typically done by mailing them a notice of the probate case.
  4. Gathering and inventorying assets: The executor or administrator is responsible for gathering all of the deceased person’s assets and inventorying them for the Probate Court. This includes assets such as real estate, bank accounts, stocks, and personal property.
  5. Paying debts and taxes: The executor or administrator is responsible for paying the deceased person’s debts and taxes, including any credit card balances, outstanding loans, and any taxes owed.
  6. Distributing assets to heirs: After the deceased person’s debts and taxes have been paid, the executor or administrator can distribute the remaining assets to the deceased person’s heirs according to the terms of the will or Ohio state law.

How long can the probate process take?

In Ohio, probate process can take anywhere from several months to several years, depending on the complexity of the estate and the number of assets involved. It is important for executors or administrators to keep detailed records and work closely with the Probate Court to ensure that the process is handled properly.

Can the probate process be avoided?

Probate process is not always necessary. Some assets, such as jointly owned property, life insurance policies, or retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, may pass directly to the designated beneficiary outside the probate process. Also, the state of Ohio allows for simplified probate process for small estates. In those cases, where the value of the probate estate is less than $35,000, the court may be waived of its jurisdiction and the estate can be settled by the individual without court involvement. In Ohio, it’s important to understand the probate process and your role in it if you are named as an executor or administrator, an heir or a potential beneficiary. Also, if you are looking to avoid probate or have concerns about the process, it’s best to consult with an attorney who can help you understand your options and guide you through the process. Please call Brenden Kelley Law at 216-644-3359 so that we can assist you.
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Why Estate Planning Matters

Why Estate Planning Matters

Estate planning is a crucial aspect of financial planning that involves organizing and managing your assets and affairs in the event of your incapacitation or death. It is especially important in the state of Ohio, as Ohio law dictates how your assets will be distributed if you do not have a valid estate plan in place. Without proper estate planning, your assets may not be distributed according to your wishes, and your loved ones may face unnecessary challenges and complications in the aftermath of your passing.

There are several key reasons why estate planning is so important in Ohio:

First and foremost, estate planning allows you to control how your assets will be distributed after your death. This is especially important if you have specific wishes for how your assets should be used, or if you want to ensure that your loved ones are provided for in the event of your passing. Without a proper estate plan, your assets may be distributed according to Ohio’s laws of intestacy, which may not align with your wishes.

Estate planning also allows you to appoint a trusted individual as your power of attorney, giving them the authority to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation. This can be especially important if you become incapacitated due to an illness or injury, as it ensures that someone you trust is able to make important decisions on your behalf.

In addition to these practical considerations, estate planning can also help to minimize potential conflicts and disputes among your loved ones in the aftermath of your passing. When you have a clear and well-organized estate plan in place, it can be easier to avoid disputes over your assets and ensure that your loved ones are provided for according to your wishes.

There are several different tools and strategies that can be used as part of an effective estate plan in Ohio. Some of the most common include wills, trusts, power of attorney documents, and advance healthcare directives. It is important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine which tools and strategies are best suited to your individual needs and goals.

Estate planning can provide you with peace of mind.

Overall, estate planning is an essential aspect of financial planning that can provide peace of mind and ensure that your loved ones are taken care of in the event of your incapacitation or death. By taking the time to create a comprehensive and well-organized estate plan, you can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are protected. Please call Brenden Kelley Law at 216-644-3359 so that we can assist you.

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