No one cherishes thinking about their own death and what happens afterwards. As an estate planning attorney in Columbus, Ohio, we never see anyone come into our offices on a whim. But we always send them home with peace of mind that they have taken the steps necessary to ensure that their loved ones will not need to struggle with financial and property management details once they do have to leave behind spouses, children, and siblings.
Dying intestate—that is, without leaving a will or setting up a trust—makes a probate court judge responsible for dividing property and money among survivors. Note that this does not mean that the state takes all the stuff. Rather, it means that the judge who takes responsibility for the estate must strictly follow state laws while awarding items, savings, insurance payments, and unpaid debt to family members.
Often, dying intestate means all the deceased individual’s property and business holdings must be sold quickly so that cash can be distributed to survivors. None of the intentions the deceased had to donate items or funds to charity will be honored unless beneficiaries decide to carry out those wishes on their own volition. Further, family members may exercise their rights to contest the original decisions of the probate judge, most likely creating bad blood and increasing everyone’s costs.
Working with a dedicated Columbus estate planning lawyer to prepare a legally enforceable will or trust often takes no more than a single afternoon. Once such a document exists, it can be amended easily to reflect changing life circumstances.
Wills and trusts differ in important ways, but neither is definitively a “better” estate planning tool. The biggest difference is that a will must go through a formal probate process in which a judge recognizes an estate executor and ensures that all the terms of the will were carried out faithfully. Setting up a trust empowers an estate administrator to carry out the terms without going through probate.
Both wills and trusts let a person
Each of these provisions and other create legal obligations. The terms can also leave survivors with tax liabilities and the need to assume unpaid debts. Sitting down with a Columbus estate planning lawyer while drawing up the will or trust ensures that all of these implications are clarified and ways to minimize negative impacts get explored.
Either estate planning document must be written and put into force in certain ways. Also, official copies of wills and trusts must be filed with the state in order to become fully executable contracts. A Columbus estate planning attorney will make sure all the applicable rules get followed.
Estate planning lawyers with the Jones Law Group welcome opportunities to assist fellow Ohioans with estate planning. Set up an appointment by calling us at (614) 545-9998 or completing this online contact form.
Mr. Jackson spent much time educating me about the law, the court system, and about the pros and cons of each decision I needed to make throughout this long, arduous process. He was patient, kind, and thorough … I could not have been represented better by anyone else.”