Most Ohioans don’t have a simple will, let alone a comprehensive estate plan. What does having a simple will do? A will controls the distribution of your assets at your passing, allowing you to leave your assets to whomever you choose. In addition, a will names an executor who manages the assets until they are distributed to your beneficiaries. A person who passes without a will is deemed to have died intestate, and their assets will be distributed in accordance with state law.
What else does having a simple will do? Having a simple will also ensures that your assets and estate will go through the probate court. Many people assume having a will in place allows family members, such as spouses or children, to automatically take control of assets when they pass away. However, without a more comprehensive estate plan in place, those assets are often held in probate court. Probate is the court process that oversees the administration and distribution of estates. Certain burdens and costs of probate exist that most people want to avoid. First, the probate process can be very lengthy. In Ohio, an estate cannot be closed for at least six months from the passing of the deceased to allow creditors an opportunity to make claims against the estate. Having assets held in probate for an extended period of time can restrict a spouse or child’s access to accounts or assets needed for support. Also, there is no privacy when your estate goes through probate, as all probate court documents, including assets and debts, are a matter of public record. The biggest burden, however, is often the cost. The cost to your estate can vary depending on which county you live in, but for most Ohioans the financial and emotional costs of probate far exceed the price of putting together a comprehensive estate plan.
So what’s the best way to avoid these burdens? Plan ahead. One way to avoid the hassles and costs of probate is to create a trust to distribute your proceedings after your passing. Various trusts accomplish different purposes, but one trait they all have in common is that the items held in trusts avoid probate. Instead, trusts allow assets to go directly to your beneficiaries without going through the convoluted and often costly route of probate court. The most common trust created for probate avoidance is a revocable living trust. While you are alive and of sound mind you are in control as trustee of your trust. Also, these trusts are flexible and you can amend later if needed. Keep in mind that no matter what trust is used, the probate avoidance benefits of a trust are only obtained if the trust is properly funded.
Having just a simple will ensures the assets you own will go through probate. If you’d like to discuss how you can avoid the burdens and costs of probate with Central Ohio’s top-rated family law firm, give AlerStallings a call today at 877-912-3464.