Elk & Elk attorney Amy Papesh will offer valuable insights into the most effective estate planning procedures and strategies at National Business Institute’s upcoming “Estate Planning from A to Z” seminar. The two-day program kicks off on Monday, March 20, with Papesh’s presentations on client screening and intake and key elements of effective wills. Continue reading “Elk & Elk’s Amy Papesh to Present at National Business Institute Estate Planning Seminar”
Many people think estate planning is only for the elderly or the very rich; however, every adult should prepare a Will, regardless of age or income level. A Will ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Without a Will, the law dictates these decisions.
What is a Will?
Simply put, a Will is a legal document that directs how you want your property to be distributed upon your death. It also allows you to name a personal representative to oversee the process and allows you to name a guardian for your minor children.
Why do I need a Will?
Anyone who owns property, real or personal, even though the amount may seem small, should have a Will. An experienced attorney can help you draft your Last Will and Testament, ensuring that your wishes regarding disbursement of assets, guardianship of minor children and other important provisions are honored.
Important reasons for preparing a Will:
- Without a valid Will, the state (not you) will determine who inherits your assets
- A Will allows you to choose the Executor, the person responsible for administering your affairs after your death
- A Will lets you nominate the guardian of your minor children after you’re gone
- A Will can eliminate the need for an expensive surety bond, for which an administrator might otherwise have to pay
What happens if I don’t have a Will?
If no Will is found, the courts will appoint an Administrator to administer the estate. Your property will be distributed according to the Ohio Statute of Descent and Distribution. Unfortunately, very often the provisions of the law are not what the deceased would have wanted.
It is important that you review your Will periodically with your attorney in order to keep it up to date. Never mark up a Will; you may invalidate it. Changes should always be made by an attorney.
Remember, drafting a Will doesn’t have to be a somber experience. In reality, estate planning is really about taking care of the people you love. Whether you want to pass along grandma’s silver or your priceless collection of digital photos, a Will ensures your wishes are made clear. Taking the time to draft a Will with an experienced attorney will save your family time and money, and give you peace of mind.
Elk & Elk can help you prepare essential estate planning documents. We will listen to your concerns and customize a plan to meet your goals. Call Amy Papesh at 1-800-ELK-OHIO or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
If you are caring for an elderly family member who is no longer able to manage his or her own affairs, you may need to consider establishing legal guardianship. A guardian is a person who is appointed by the court as a representative to make decisions on behalf of a person who is found to be incapacitated, known as the ward. In Ohio, guardians are appointed by the probate court, which transfers responsibility for managing ward’s finances, living arrangements, and medical decisions to the guardian.
Ideally, the guardian is a responsible person who has their ward’s best interests in mind. Unfortunately, the elderly and other incapacitated individuals are easy prey for unscrupulous individuals. In a recent series of articles, the Columbus Dispatch revealed numerous abuses in what many feel is a broken system. The crux of the problem, they contend, lies in a lack of oversight and accountability:
“This system, which is supposed to look out for the health and well-being of the elderly, the mentally disabled and children, is directed by probate judges in 88 counties. And for lack of detailed guidelines from the state, the counties have 88 different ways of overseeing guardians and their wards.”
For example, guardians in Ohio are not required to visit their wards. While some counties do have mandatory monthly visits, nearly 80 percent do not. The Dispatch also reports that 90 percent of counties do not require prospective guardians to undergo a credit check and 61 percent appoint guardians without even a basic criminal background check.
More than 65,000 Ohioans have been declared incompetent by a judge, and many of those are elderly. As baby boomers age, the number of adult guardianships is expected to soar – flooding an already overburdened court system with even more cases.
The good news is that if you plan ahead, you can generally avoid court appointed guardianship. Taking the time today to meet with an experienced probate attorney will allow you to sign durable powers of attorney for finances and health care, naming the individual you wish to manage your affairs.
“Elderly, mentally ill and children trapped in broken court system” by Lucas Sullivan, Jill Riepenhoff, Mike Wagner & Josh Jarman, The Columbus Dispatch, May 18, 2014.
A Will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and care of your minor children in the event of your death. If you don’t have a Will, then the State of Ohio will decide for you who inherits your estate. This is not what most people desire to happen.
The Top 5 reasons why you need a Will are as follows:
- If you want to choose who you leave your estate to
- If you want to avoid certain fees and expenses upon death
- If you want to choose who controls the disbursement of your estate
- If you want to choose who will be the Guardian of your minor children
- If you want to protect your children from a prior marriage
Anyone 18 years of age, who is of sound mind and not under undue influence, may make a Will in Ohio. However, your wishes can only be carried out if they are known. Putting your will in the capable hands of an experienced probate attorney ensures that it will be available when it is needed. Whether you are interested in preparing a Will or need to amend an existing one, you can count on us to listen to your wishes and create an estate plan tailored to your specific situation. Contact probate attorney Amy L. Papesh at 1-800-ELK-OHIO.