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Dorothea J. Kingsbury Estate Planning & Probate Attorney

Cleveland Ohio Legal Blog

Social media after a person dies

Most Cleveland area residents have some sort of social media profile. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. are all social media platforms that a person may engage in. But, what happens to a person's social media presence after they die?

Those who are on social media have probably had an online friend who has died. Many times these accounts become a memorial to the deceased, allowing friends and family to share memories for years to come. But some people may want to plan for what happens to their social media accounts after they pass away. A digital inheritance plan is a good way to let family know what should happen to accounts. Digital assets should be listed and should be specified as to whether they should remain active or if the account should be deleted. A record should be kept with all digital subscriptions that are being used, including email accounts, social media accounts, music sharing apps, shopping sites, etc.

Revocable living trusts as an estate planning tool

Many Cleveland area residents understand the value that estate planning can bring. Knowing how a person's assets will be distributed upon their death can offer them peace of mind. A person can also feel like they are in control of their estate and can arrange things exactly as they feel fit.

A revocable living trust is one of the most popular estate planning tools. Most people want their estate to avoid probate upon their death and this is a good way to ensure that happens. Upon a person's death, their property is transferred quickly and quietly, without the general public knowing what is going on. Assets including property, bank accounts and investment accounts are transferred into a trust where they are managed by a trustee. A revocable living trust can be changed or canceled at anytime while the person is still alive.

Creating education trusts can help loved ones significantly

For people in Ohio who are in the process of considering how best to establish trusts for their loved ones, an issue that has become prominent in today's world could provide a guideline as to how to move forward. Since education costs are skyrocketing and people are being overwhelmed by unmanageable and impossible to pay student-loan payments, a greater number of people who are seeking a strategy for their trust are turning to an education trust. Knowing how to do this and if it is a good idea is essential to the estate plan.

Those who have the assets to do it can derive benefit if they transfer assets from their estate into a nontaxable entity to help their loved ones defray or outright pay education costs with the trust. With an education trust, a loved one can be helped with paying for a college education, graduate school a trade school or other educational endeavors. Since college debt is an increasing problem for a large faction of society and many are debating whether it is worth it at all, people who have the means and the desire can help loved ones get an education without needing to fear for their financial future.

Exploring the potential advantages of a power of attorney

You may find that certain circumstances in life can be difficult, if not impossible, to predict. However, even if you cannot foresee future events, you may be able to form a strategy that is in keeping with your wishes, which could prove exceedingly beneficial should the need ever arise.

While perhaps difficult to consider, there may come a point in life when you become incapable of making decisions for yourself, whether over time or due to a sudden medical emergency. During this period, having a power of attorney of your choosing to make the necessary decisions could prove exceedingly beneficial.

Will guardianships be necessary to care for a loved one?

When an Ohioan has a family member who is unable to care for him or herself, a guardianship might be the only viable option to ensure they are taken care of properly. In the state, the law says that there can be a guardianship when the person cannot handle medical issues, finances and basic needs and there is no other choice available. Knowing when a guardianship might be the preferred option and how to go about it is crucial to the process.

People with health issues can be elderly people, younger people or children. The reason for there to be a guardianship for someone with health issues can range from them being severely handicapped, being in a coma, having various disabilities, being afflicted with illnesses or conditions, and having faced drug problems. A brain injury can also be a reason to name a guardian. The dangers and aftereffects of brain injuries are becoming more well-known with sports coming to the forefront as a cause of it, but there are many ways - a car crash, a work accident, traumatic brain injury - that it can happen. It can even happen as a birth injury. People whose brains are not functioning sufficiently to address their personal needs might require a guardianship.

When should wills be altered to reflect life changes?

Ohio residents are undoubtedly aware of the importance of having a comprehensive estate plan. Part of that is crafting a will. However, not all situations stay the same from the time the will is drafted. When there are changes to a person's life circumstances, it is a wise decision to change the details of the will. Changing wills might sound like it is complicated, but it is not. Updating a will is sometimes just as important as crafting it in the first place. Knowing when this should be done is an important aspect of the estate plan.

Since the will is designed to list who will receive various properties and assets from the testator at the time of death, people might be added or removed from the document as time passes. If the person gets married, a new document should be created to address this and take care of the spouse. A common law marriage is recognized in Ohio if it came about before October 10, 1991. People who are in a common law relationship might need to adjust their will to reflect that.

Exploring the benefits of a charitable trust

When it comes to estate planning, individuals have a wide variety of options. This can easily become complex and confusing, as one may not know what they need or how these documents will impact their future. Thus, it is important to understand how estate planning documents, such as a trust, work and how they could benefit you.

When it comes to trusts, there are a variety of trusts to consider. Not all are created equally and not all individuals in Ohio and elsewhere could benefit from drafting a trust. With regards to a charitable trust, this allows individuals to benefit others while also obtaining estate tax benefits. While a charitable trust is not a tax-exempt, it is deemed a charitable contribution deduction. The main reason why individuals would give a charitable gift at their death is because they are deductible without limit and they help reduce the taxable estate.

Benefits of a special needs trust

Depending on the detail of your life, an estate plan can take on a vastly different form when compared to the next person. Just like every person is unique, an estate plan can include many parts to address the current and growing needs of the testator. And for those with family members living with a disability, an estate plan could be designed to meet these current and future needs. A special needs trust could benefit an individual seeking or currently receiving disability benefits through a government program.

Because it is the policy of the federal and state government programs to only provide for the basic and essential needs of individuals living with disabilities, they are only supported to reach the poverty line or just below that. But what happens when family, interested parties and even settlements are calculated in? This could impact a person's ability to qualify for disability benefits.

There is little glory in the job of an estate executor

Anyone who has ever served as the executor of a loved one's estate will likely say it is both an honor and a burden. In fact, few who have the experience ever want to repeat it, and they may take extra care in choosing their own executors to avoid leaving loved ones with the stress and frustration the duties entail.

If you have recently learned that a loved one named you executor in his or her will, or if a court appointed you to the position, you probably have concerns about being able to fulfill the duties effectively. These concerns are well-founded since settling an estate is complicated, and because an executor serves in a fiduciary role for the estate, you may be responsible for any errors or mishaps that occur during the process.

What's the difference between primary and contingent beneficiary?

No matter when you decide to initiate the estate planning process, it is important to understand what decisions you need to make and how it could impact how your wishes and intentions are played out. When it comes to retirement accounts, you must be sure to name a beneficiary. In addition, that named beneficiary should not conflict with those named in your will. While this can seem easy enough, individuals in Ohio and elsewhere can find this process challenging and confusing, especially when they are required to name an added beneficiary as a contingency.

What's the difference between a primary and contingent beneficiary? With regards to accounts such as a life insurance policy, a beneficiary is the person that will receive your death benefit. It is possible to name one or more persons, a charity or an estate; however, if you have a trust set up, you can also name the trustee.

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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