3 Common Questions About Estate Planning – Answered

Many of our clients have estate planning needs and often ask us questions on this topic. Local estate attorney, Dirk Winkler, answers three of the most common estate planning questions in this week’s special guest blog post below.

Guest Post by Dirk Winkler, Estate Planning Attorney

  1. Do I really need to have a Will? My family will get everything anyway, right?

Not exactly.  Ohio intestate statute establishes a hierarchy of heirs at law depending on the decedent’s surviving relationships and his/her property interests subject to probate.  For instance, if decedent was survived by a spouse that was also the biological parent of all of decedent’s children, then the surviving spouse inherits decedent’s entire estate.

However, if decedent is survived by a spouse that was not the biological parent of decedent’s surviving children, then the surviving spouse would receive the first $20,000 and half of decedent’s estate, with decedent’s children receiving the remainder.

If you are remarried and have children from a prior marriage, your children may not receive the property that you think they should.  Failing to plan accordingly leaves your family and loved ones at the mercy of the Ohio Intestate Statute.

One way to address second marriages and children is to have an estate plan that provides for the care and welfare of your surviving spouse, while ultimately distributing your property to your children after your surviving spouse passes.

Failing to plan in this area of life can cause unnecessary discord later on.

  1. Do I need a Durable Power of Attorney?

Why is having a durable power of attorney so important?  A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is where one person, the principal, designates another, the Attorney in Fact, to serve in their place should the principal become unable to make decisions on their own.  The DPOA is a document that sets-forth what powers the Attorney in Fact has as it relates to the principal’s financial, business and personal affairs.  The DPOA is important because it allows another to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so, even on a temporary basis. It is not uncommon for someone to survive a significant health event (e.g. stroke, car accident), yet not have the ability to care for themselves temporarily or permanently.

Additionally, a DPOA is immediate and can provide your family assurance that your affairs, along with their stability, will continue to be dealt with during your incapacity.

Failure to have a DPOA forces family members, including spouses, to file a Guardianship proceeding at Probate Court to obtain the legal authority to act on behalf of a loved one – a costly and time consuming process.

  1. Must everyone have a revocable trust?

Not necessarily.  A revocable trust is a document that holds title to one’s assets during their lifetime.  When the person passes away the property held in the trust is managed and distributed by a trustee in accordance with the terms and conditions set-forth in the trust.

Depending on your assets and how those assets are owned, and your intended beneficiaries, a revocable trust may not be necessary.  For instance, if you have minor children when you pass, a revocable trust may be a better option in that it provides greater flexibility to care for your children while they are minors and once they become adults.  A trust would allow your trustee to treat your children in the same manner that you would have if you were living.

Additionally, revocable trusts allow you to plan for unforeseen life events that may affect your children directly.  Since a revocable trust is created during one’s lifetime it can be changed, e.g. terms and conditions, assets transferred in and out of the trust, etc.

 

Dirk Winkler - Estate Planning AttorneyDirken D. Winkler is the founder and owner of Winkler Legal Services, LLC, a law firm dedicated to providing central Ohioans with Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Administration services.

Dirk may be contacted at 614-461-5708.

 

 

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