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Northeast Ohio Estate Planning Law Firm

Estate Planning in Ohio

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Contrary to popular belief, estate planning isn’t just for high-net-worth individuals. It isn’t reserved for senior citizens, either. No matter your age or how much you own, a well-thought-out estate plan can help protect your assets and loved ones and give you peace of mind as you approach retirement.

It’s never too early to start working on your estate plan. Our experienced legal team at the John Hoffman Law Firm can assist you in all aspects of estate planning. We offer a free 15-minute Discovery Call to discuss your case. When you’re ready, go ahead and schedule your free call using our easy online calendar. 

What Is Estate Planning?

“Estate planning” is the process of arranging for the management and disposal of your estate after you pass away or become incapacitated during your lifetime. Your estate includes everything you own, including cash, bank accounts, your home and other real estate, your car, retirement accounts, insurance policies, stocks, bonds, and more.

Estate Planning Isn’t Just for Rich or Older People

The word “estate” often brings to mind images of grand buildings and sprawling country estates, but this is a very narrow and somewhat misleading view. If you own something in your name, regardless of its value, you have an estate and can benefit from having an estate plan.

Estate planning isn’t just for older people, either. While it’s never too late to draft an estate plan, you should start working on yours well before retirement for maximum peace of mind.

Ohio Estate Planning Law Firm

Essential Elements of an Ohio Estate Plan

Estate planning is a multi-step process. We will advise you on the optimal estate plan for your and your family’s needs, but estate plans generally consist of the following elements:

Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament, or just will for short, is a legal document in which you set out your wishes for who will manage and inherit your assets after your death. You can also use your will to name a personal guardian to care for your minor children or manage the property you leave to your children until they come of age.

In your will, you must also name an executor, whose job is to ensure that the provisions in your will are carried out after your death. If you don’t name an executor, the probate court will appoint one for you.
Revocable Living Trust
A trust is a legal entity that “holds” property on behalf of your chosen beneficiary or beneficiaries. By transferring your assets to the trust, you transfer the title to the property as well. A trustee will manage the trust for the beneficiaries before the assets can pass on to them.

You can appoint yourself as a trustee while you are alive. After you pass away, a successor trustee will take over. If you create a shared trust, as is often the case with married couples, the successor trustee will assume control after your surviving spouse has died.

A revocable living trust is a trust you create while you’re alive. You retain control over the trust assets and are free to modify or revoke the trust at any time. By contrast, irrevocable trusts can’t be revoked or modified after you sign them. You can use an irrevocable trust for specific goals like reducing tax exposure, but you’d need to give up ownership and control of the trust assets.
Living Will
Often combined with a medical power of attorney, a living will is a legally binding document that sets out your preferences and directions for end-of-life medical treatment if you are incapacitated.

A living will tells the health care provider whether you wish or don’t wish to be resuscitated or kept alive by artificial means. Living wills may not be used to allow you to die if you could be saved: They only take effect if you are in a permanent vegetative state or suffering from a terminal illness and unable to communicate.

Why You Need an Estate Plan

Here are just a couple of reasons you should have an estate plan:

You Can Distribute Your Assets According to Your Wishes

With an estate plan, you have a much higher degree of control over the management and distribution of your assets after you pass away. At the very least, you should have a will. If you die without a will, also known as dying intestate in legal terms, the court will distribute your property according to Ohio state law.

You Can Avoid Probate

Probate is a legal process in which a special probate court verifies the validity of your will and oversees the distribution of your inheritance. Probate proceedings are public and can be costly and time-consuming.

However, you may be able to avoid probate for a portion of your estate by transferring assets into a trust. Only property titled solely in your name is subject to probate in Ohio. Trusts and other probate avoidance strategies can save you a lot of time and money and safeguard your privacy.

Estate Planning Mistakes To Avoid

Here are some estate planning dos and don’ts:

  • Thinking you don’t need a will: Even if you set up a living trust, you should have a will to cover any outstanding assets and other matters. Only a will can name guardians for your children and make certain decisions about the management of your assets.
  • Not updating your estate plan: You should update and revisit your estate every few years or whenever your family or financial circumstances change. Otherwise, you risk leaving new assets uncovered and might even cut new family members out of the inheritance.
  • Not planning for incompetence: Though the major focus of estate planning is planning for your passing, you should also include provisions for if you were to become incapacitated or mentally incompetent.

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney in Akron, OH

Estate planning needn’t be stressful. At the John Hoffman Law Office, we can advise you on a wide range of estate planning, asset protection, business succession, and related matters. 

Book your free 15-minute Discover Call with an estate planning lawyer in Akron, OH.

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Estate Planning in Northeast Ohio

John Hoffman Law serves people with legal needs throughout Northeast Ohio in Summit and Medina Counties.

Attorney John Hoffman is ready to help you with estate planning and medicaid planning. Let John Hoffman Law put our experience and diligent legal representation to work for you. Contact us today to learn how John Hoffman Law can help you.

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John Hoffman Law Office, LLC

150 North Miller Rd., Suite 450
Fairlawn, OH 44333

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