Having an “estate plan” means two things: (1) that you have a series of legally enforceable documents that handle your affairs if you are disabled and (2) that you have a legally enforceable plan to transfer your assets to whom you would like and how you would like them transferred upon your death.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who needs an estate plan?
Everyone over the age of 18. However, those in particular need are the elderly, couples with young children and those in “non traditional relationships” (i.e. never married, second marriage).
What documents are necessary if I want to create an estate plan?
Last Will and Testament, Financial Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will. In some instances, a Trust may be necessary.
What does a Financial Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Power of Attorney do?
These two documents (which are separate) assign another individual to handle your affairs when you are incapacitated, whether it be for a short or long period of time. Often incapacity arises from an auto accident or serious illness. Without a Power of Attorney someone on your behalf would need to be appointed Guardian by the Probate Court to be able to make all of your decisions.
Why should I have a Living Will?
A Living Will is a declaration which states your intentions for your end of life care. Essentially, it states that you do not want to be kept alive by artificial means (i.e. a breathing or feeding tube). By having a Living Will your family will know your wishes and will not have to make these decisions by themselves.
What is a Last Will and Testament?
A Last Will and Testament (“Will”) is a set of instructions as to how you want your property to be distributed upon your death and who you would choose to be Guardian of any minor children you may have. The Will is merely a piece of paper until the Probate Court has made a finding that it is in fact your Will and therefore its terms are binding. The Executor carries out the terms of the Will and his or her actions are overseen by the Judge of the Probate Court.
I’ve heard so much about Trusts, do I need one?
Maybe. Whether or not someone needs a trust is highly dependent upon your individual goals and how you want to distribute your property. See the “Trusts” tab for more information!
What if I don’t have an estate plan?
Not to worry, Ohio law says who will take care of you and where your property passes upon your death. Or, maybe you should worry!
Do I need an Attorney to assist me with creating an estate plan?
Technically, no. However, it has been said “you don’t know what you don’t know” and a qualified Attorney will make sure that you have thought through all of your options and have left no stone unturned. Although it is not advisable, clients often, once a plan is created, will leave the documents in place for many years, so it is imperative that they are done right!
How long is my estate plan good for?
Any estate planning document is enforceable until you decide to revoke or change the document. However, in practice it is wise to re-evaluate your estate planning documents when you have had a major life event (i.e. death in the family, marriage/divorce, birth of a child) or to update some or all of these documents about every 3 to 5 years.
Can my plan be changed?
Absolutely! Any document you execute, whether it is a power of attorney, a Will and even a trust can be either revoked or amended.
If I retain Hronek Law to prepare my estate plan, how does the process work?
Generally, I meet with clients two times. Our first meeting would be to discuss more in depth the necessary documents and explore your options and who you would like to be your power of attorney and how you want to distribute your property. The second meeting is to execute all the prepared documents.
How do you bill for creating an estate plan?
The vast majority of clients are billed on a flat rate fee based upon the exact plan. At the end of the first meeting, you will know the fee that will be charged.