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Dorothea J. Kingsbury Estate Planning & Probate Attorney

Cleveland Ohio Legal Blog

Events that can affect an estate plan

Many Cleveland residents have taken the time to create an estate plan. An estate plan is important in making sure a person's wishes are followed in the event of an incapacitation event or death. But an estate plan doesn't just end when it is created, there are certain events that can affect an estate plan.

One event that can affect an estate plan is a change in marital status. If a person is divorced, married or remarried, it is important to visit the estate plan to make sure the beneficiary information is correct. Another event is a death in the family. Again, if someone who is named in the estate plan passes away, they should be replaced. Another issue that can affect an estate plan is whether any of the beneficiaries have life issues. A beneficiary may be going through a divorce, addiction situation, gambling problem, etc. A person may be concerned about where their money may wind up. A person may want to look at the beneficiary designations and adjust as necessary. Trust funding can also be an issue. It is important to review how the assets are owned in a trust and the beneficiary designations. Finally, a move can affect an estate plan. If a person moves to another state, this can affect an estate plan.

Digital estate planning

Estate planning does not just involve the typical wills and trusts anymore. With advancements in technology and cyber accounts, many Ohio residents have a digital presence as well. These digital assets need to be covered in estate planning.

In this information age, almost everyone has some kind of online presence. People use these accounts for banking and investment purposes, music libraries, social media, shopping and other reasons. These accounts require passwords to access and, when a person dies, these accounts can be pain for a family. Digital assets should now be included in an estate plan. A list should be made of all digital assets and their passwords and usernames. This list should also include files, external storage devices and flash drives. Crypto currency should also be included. Once the list has been created, designate a person who is in charge of what assets and what should be done with them upon a death.

Estate planning for a special needs child

Many Cleveland area residents have a child with special needs. These children require a lot of specialized care, including medical care, personal care and education. This can be very time-consuming and expensive for the families who love these children. Planning for their future is important in order to make sure their needs are met for the rest of their lives.

Parents of children with developmental disabilities need to understand the importance of planning for their children's future. Many times these children outlive their parents, so planning for this time can ensure their child is taken care of even after they are gone. Many of these children will not be able to live independently which is another reason why planning ahead is so critical. A financial power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney and living will are all important documents that should be created. A special needs trust is also an important estate planning tool parents should establish. The trust can be used for their child's expenses for years to come and family members can contribute to it at any time. It also does not count against a child and qualifying for Medicaid and Supplemental Security benefits. Families who don't believe they have enough money to contribute to a trust can make the trust the beneficiary of their life insurance policy.

Can you amend a trust?

Cleveland area residents who have created a trust understand the importance of planning ahead to protect their assets. A trust is an estate planning tool that many choose to use for their needs. Occasionally there are aspects of the trust that need to be amended.

If a family has a living trust then that trust can be amended. There is an amendment document that is a simple document where a person can make changes. Once a trust has been amended several times, it may be time to create a new trust just to make it an easier to read document.

Will your loved one's estate need probate or administration?

You, like most Ohio residents, know that the manner in which various situations proceed can depend heavily on whether any plans were made to address the particular scenario. Often, when individuals plan ahead, events tend to go more smoothly and with fewer complications. On the other hand, even without a plan, certain proceedings must still move forward. When it comes to closing a recently deceased individual's estate, with or without a plan, legal processes must take place.

More and more people come to understand the value of creating an estate plan. Having instructions directly from the deceased person can make it much easier for surviving loved ones, like you, to handle the necessary obligations related to closing an estate. Still, not everyone chooses to plan for events that will take place after their deaths, and you may wonder how a plan or lack of one may affect the legal process.

Keeping an effective estate plan current is important

When estate planning, it is important to think of the long term and any changes to the estate planner's life. Estate planning helps to account for asset distribution, medical and financial considerations if the estate planner becomes incapacitated or otherwise. Estate planning is important for everyone to consider and with knowledge, understanding a few documents, an estate planner can develop an effective estate plan.

An effective estate plan includes a validly executed will and because there are rules to validly execute a will depending on the state, it is important to be familiar with the requirements for a valid will in the estate planner's state and to ensure all requirements are met. In addition, an effective estate plan can include a trust. Because there are different types of trusts, and trust planning can be technical and, at times, confusing, trained guidance through the will and trust process can be useful.

Ensuring a pet is taken care when something happens to its owner

Many Cleveland area residents own pets. The American Pet Products Association estimates that 68 percent of American households own a pet. When a pet owner dies before their pet, having a plan in place in this situation is a good idea.

A pet trust is a way for a pet owner to ensure that their pet will be taken care of after the owner passes away. A pet trust is a legal document in which the pet's owner names a person who is to take care of the pet. The person who is appointed to take care of the pet will also receive additional money for the pet's care. The owner can specify how the money is spent and can provide specific care instructions. A pet trust is a way for a pet owner to ensure their pet will continue to receive good care in case their owner unexpectedly passes away.

Is a will enough for your estate?

Many Cleveland residents have taken the time to think about their estate planning options. Estate planning is important in order for families to pass their assets to the people and organizations that they find important. Many people have heard of wills, but are they enough to meet a family's estate planning needs?

A will is a good start for a family's estate planning needs. It can be considered the backbone of an estate plan. But, there can be some add-ons that can address some more complicated matters in a will. Beneficiary designations on assets can direct the assets in a specific way. And transfer on death or payable on death can work well for transferring property and investment accounts to specific people.

How to choose estate representatives

Estate planning is something that most Cleveland area residents will work on during their lifetime. One of the aspects of estate planning that is important is choosing an estate representative. This can also be one of the most difficult aspects of estate planning.

There are certain qualities a person should keep in mind when choosing their estate representative. This person will have tremendous power and choosing the right person is critical. First, an estate representative should have a person's complete trust and confidence. This person will have control over financial matters after a person dies, so making sure they can be trusted is important.

Do you need to update your estate plan? The answer is likely yes.

If you have already created an estate plan, you are ahead of many Ohio residents who have put off the process for various reasons. Some individuals may think they do not have enough assets to need a plan, still have time to create one or simply do not like thinking about their potential demise. However, avoiding estate planning altogether could prove detrimental.

You may think that you have dodged a bullet by making your wishes known ahead of time, but if you fail to update your plan, your estate could wind up in a difficult position similar to those with no estate plan. You may wonder why you cannot just leave your plan as it is, but many life changes could warrant an update to such important documents.

Good Advice. Real Solutions.

I am attorney Dorothea J. Kingsbury. I provide good advice and real solutions to challenging problems. I can help you choose and personalize estate planning instruments that meet your family's present and future needs. I can develop elder law strategies that ensure proper care for your loved ones. I can guide you through the probate/estate administration process when a family member has passed away. I can help make sure your interests are protected during your real estate transaction. I am here to make things easier.

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