It is nearing the holidays. You’re finally getting around to thinking about your estate plan. Maybe you just attended a workshop put on by an Elder Law attorney. Now your head is spinning with information. We get it. It can feel overwhelming and you don’t know where to begin. When you sit down to meet with an Elder Law attorney, be sure they are asking you all of the right questions.
- Do you know who your beneficiaries are or who is going to get your “Stuff” when you pass away? – Most financial accounts such as annuities and IRA’s are automatically set up with a beneficiary in place, however, your checking or savings account most likely does not have a beneficiary designation. Without a beneficiary designation, you risk these accounts going through Probate when you pass away. Check your accounts and make sure that your accounts are set up as payable on death to your beneficiaries to delay any headaches or unnecessary fees at your passing. Probate takes a while(at least 6 months in Ohio) and can be expensive.
- Do you know who your agents are or who is going to represent you when you cannot speak for yourself? – It is very important that your estate PLANreflects your wishes. We often see clients who have documents, but no real PLAN. Twenty years ago they may have gotten a will, but that’s about it. In many instances, life has changed significantly. Children are now grown up, parents have passed away, and some clients may even have a new spouse. In addition, we’ve seen documents whereagents have already passed away.Be sure that the persons you currently want to make decisions for you are properly named.
- Do you know how your property is titled or who will get your home when you pass away? – As mentioned, probate can be lengthy and costly. If your goal is to avoid probate, you’ll want to ensure that your real estate deed is properly titled. If you are a married couple and both of your names show on the deed, you want to read closely for the language “joint tenants with rights of survivorship”. If this survivorship phrase is not listed on the property deed and one of the spouse passes away, the property will need to go through probate, even though it was jointly owned at the time of death.
For more information on what to discuss with your Elder Law Attorney or to schedule an appointment, please feel free to visit our website at www.alerstallings.com.