Probate & Estate Planning
At Kathleen Mezher & Associates, LLC we believe that an estate plan is a vital tool to protect yourself and the interests of your loved ones. Our estate planning process is a comprehensive effort to examine the assets owned by an individual or married couple, evaluate their goals for dividing assets at death, and to minimize the taxes paid as a result of the death of either one or both of them. The process is then periodically repeated as the life stages and circumstances change.
When an Ohio resident dies owning probate property in the state, a legal proceeding to determine the deceased's assets, their value, and the method of distribution to heirs is provided for by law. This proceeding is called probate, and it occurs whether the person dies with or without a will. Probate takes place in the Probate Court of the county where the deceased property owner resided. If the decedent also owned property in another state, additional proceedings may be necessary in that state. Probate property is all property that is not covered by any survivorship title or contract providing for a succession on the death of the owner. Probate is necessary to protect the assets of the decedent for the heirs, creditors and other persons due money from the estate, and to insure the collection of money due to the estate. Probate provides for the payment of outstanding debts and taxes and the expenses of administration and distribution of the remainder of the estate to the heirs.
A properly drawn will assures that upon your death your property will be distributed as you intended. It is important that you review your will periodically with your attorney in order to keep it up to date. If you do not make a will, your property will be distributed according to the Ohio Statute of Descent and Distribution.
A "living trust" is a trust which is funded with assets and which can be amended and revoked by the person creating the trust. The person creating the trust, often called the "settlor" or the "grantor," typically retains all the benefits to the property placed into the trust. The grantor can also be the trustee in Ohio, although the grantor's spouse or a trust company also often serves as trustee. The terms of a "living trust" are established in a written agreement signed by the grantor and the trustee. A "living trust" can be funded with bank accounts, stocks and bonds, a home and other assets. The terms of the "living trust" should provide for the disposition of the property in the trust both during the life and following the death of the grantor. A "living trust" may have many purposes. A common goal is to avoid "probate." Assets within a "living trust" will generally not be subject to the jurisdiction of the probate court, either while the grantor is living or following the grantor's death. Assets owned in individual name and not contractually payable on death will generally be subject to probate.
Though everyone could benefit from having an estate plan, they are most commonly desired by those that have just had their first child, are accumulating significant assets, or are reaching the later years of life. We encourage you to contact our firm at your convenience to ensure that your family and estate are properly protected under any situation.