Top 5 Ways Zellar & Zellar, Attorneys At Law, Inc., Can Assist You With Your Estate Planning Needs

Top 5 Ways Zellar & Zellar, Attorneys At Law, Inc., Can Assist You With Your Estate Planning Needs

Estate planning is one of the most important topics people avoid.  While it is never easy discussing issues that relate to disability or death, it can easily save your family a world of trouble in the future.  Estate planning allows you to pre-plan for distribution of assets at the time of your death.  Estate planning also allows you to designate someone who can act for you in the event you are unable to do so for yourself.  By having the necessary documents in place, you (and most likely your family) can save thousands of dollars in legal fees by avoiding a guardianship or probate.

Why Hire An Estate Planning Attorney?

Once you start the process of getting your personal affairs in order, it’s important that you consider hiring an estate planning attorney. An estate planning attorney can advise you of all available options. The attorney can advise you about your personal assets and how to make the best decisions going forward. These decisions should not be made lightly, as most of the estate planning documents can be life changing, if not prepared with the skill of experienced counsel.

An estate planning attorney can also advise you about any potential tax consequences. Sometimes beneficiaries may be obligated to pay an inheritance tax on some items. An estate planning attorney can help you minimize your beneficiary’s tax liability, if any.

Here are the top five (5) ways that the experienced attorneys at Zellar & Zellar, Attorneys at Law, Inc., can assist you with your estate planning needs:

Draft a Last Will and Testament:

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that allows you to decide where your assets are to go upon your death.  Essentially, the Will tells the Probate Court in the county you reside how your assets should be disbursed.  This document requires special statutory drafting and signing requirements, which is why it is always recommended that you seek the advice of an experienced attorney.  An attorney can draft the document to remove all ambiguity, so your wishes remain intact in the event any of your assets require probate.  The document must be thoroughly written in order for the court to uphold it. A will can be altered at any time.

Prepare Real Estate Documents to Avoid Probate:

In most cases, any real estate that you owe at the time of your death does not have to pass through probate.  In Ohio, there are certain documents that can be recorded in your county to allow for an easy transition of ownership of your home.  The first document is called a Survivorship Deed.  This document is common between spouses and it contains special statutory language that allows the surviving spouse to transfer the deceased spouse’s interest at death.  An experienced attorney can review your current Real Estate Deed to determine whether a new deed must be created.

Another devise for easy transfer of real estate is known as a Transfer on Death Designation Affidavit.  In the even you are unmarried and are the sole owner of your property, this document can be drafted to allow a family member or friend to become the sole owner of your property when you pass away.  This is another way to avoid the need to probate the interest in your real estate.

Prepare a Durable Financial Power of Attorney:

A Durable Financial Power of Attorney allows you to appoint someone you trust (as well as two contingent agents) to act on your behalf in the event you become incapacity and unable to manage your financial wellbeing.  Your designated “Attorney In Fact” can do anything you can do for yourself in a financial capacity, such as access bank accounts, pay bills, sell assets, etc.  This document would also negate the need for a guardianship process through the Court, which can be costly and time consuming.  It is always best to consult an experienced attorney, as a decision to appoint a Power of Attorney should not be taken lightly.  You always want to pick someone you fully trust.  This document is only valid while you are alive and terminates upon death.

Prepare a Healthcare Power of Attorney:

Like the Durable Financial Power of Attorney, the Healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a primary person to handle your medical affairs on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so for yourself.  This document governs health care decisions only, not financial.  This document is only valid while you are alive and terminates upon death.

Discuss the need for Beneficiary Designations:

A beneficiary designation on an asset can prevent said asset from going through the probate process.  Many financial assets already have a beneficiary designation built into the process, such a retirement account or life insurance.  However, most common financial accounts, such as a checking or savings account, may not already have a beneficiary designation on file.  An experienced attorney can discuss the specific assets that you have to make sure the correct beneficiary designations are made to protect those assets from going through probate.

Zellar & Zellar, Attorneys at Law, Inc., offer free estate planning consultations at all their Central Ohio offices: Columbus, Newark, Zanesville and Lancaster. The attorneys at Zellar & Zellar, Attorneys at Law, Inc., are experienced in handling estate planning affairs. They will review all existing estate planning documents and advise their clients on how to proceed. Contact Zellar & Zellar, Attorneys at Law, Inc., to schedule your free consultation today.

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