Kathryn T. Joseph & Associates, Inc.

Cleveland Estate Planning Blog

Dividing up your jewelry in your will: What to consider

One of the questions a lot of our older clients struggle with is what to do with their jewelry and watches. Many of these items are beautiful, costly and hold emotional significance for their owners -- so they want their heirs to inherit the pieces. At the same time, they don't want to start a family feud because somebody didn't get "Mom's pearls" or "Grandma's ring" after they were gone.

Here are some things to consider as you think about how to divide your jewelry box items up among your heirs:

Ohio's guardianship problem

Here's a fact that should startle -- if not outright scare -- most Ohio seniors: Only 9 percent of the state's probate courts require a proposed ward to be present for an initial guardianship hearing.

Yes, that's right. In the majority of probate courts, a relative who has decided that you're getting a little dotty in your old age can go to court and prime the judge with all sorts of stories -- true or untrue -- and you won't be there to counter them during that initial hearing.

Securing tangible property after someone dies

So, you've been left in charge of someone's estate and everyone seems to be clamoring at your door with requests.

Your brother, Bob, wants you to hand over Dad's watch because it was always promised to him. Your cousin, Anne, wants the silver tea set she was supposed to inherit. A nephew and his wife have volunteered to help clean out your Dad's fridge and tidy the house up.

Who has the authority to make funeral arrangements?

A loved one passes away in Ohio. You moved out of the state years ago, so there is a flurry of activity as you try to make plans to come home and you attempt to figure out what role you have along with the other heirs. Perhaps it is you and your siblings trying to address the passing of a parent, for instance.

Very quickly, you realize that the first logical step is to plan for the funeral. You need to make a lot of logistical and financial decisions, and you can't really put this off. But that gets you wondering about the process, and you start asking some important questions:

  • What did your parent want the funeral to look like?
  • How can you address those wishes?
  • What is best for other family members who live out of town or out of the state?
  • Who actually has the legal authority to make these decisions?

'Fair' doesn't always mean 'equal' with your heirs

Most of the time, parents try to be fair to their children -- even after those children are grown. Therefore, it's natural for parents to be concerned about how to divide their assets in their wills for their adult children.

However, "fair" doesn't always mean "share and share alike" when you're talking about your estate plan. Unlike when your children were small, dividing things up fairly isn't the same as it was when you cut a piece of cake into equal shares for each child.

Is it time to write your will?

There are a lot of reasons that people put off writing their wills. Maybe they've simply never thought about -- or maybe they don't want to think about dying.

Whatever the reason, around 60 percent of American adults are currently without wills. However, those numbers change a bit when you look closer at certain demographics. Around 58 percent of people between the ages of 53 and 71 have a will, while 81 percent of people aged 72 or older have theirs.

Protect your future by hiring an elder law attorney

Why bother hiring an elder law attorney?

This is the kind of question we hear a lot now that the internet is right at everyone's fingertips. With all those do-it-yourself legal sites available, it may seem unnecessary to actually hire an attorney to handle your will, financial power of attorney documents and medical directives -- but it's not.

Learning from your parents' estate planning mistakes

A man came in to talk to me last week, and he said that his own parents had made some serious estate planning mistakes. Now in his 40s with children of his own, he wanted to avoid those errors.

I asked him what had happened, and he grinned, looking slightly embarrassed, and told me that he had wasted their money.

Steps to take after someone dies

Family comes together when a loved one passes away. You're all there for each other emotionally. You offer support and help one another get through a difficult time. Even when it's expected, that doesn't necessarily mean it's easier. You need that support system.

At the same time that you deal with the emotional side of things, though, you also want to think about the realistic side. What steps do you need to take? What obligations do you have?

You may be surprised to find out you are a beneficiary

A will is not the only way to divide assets. You may also obtain those assets if you're a beneficiary listed on a financial account. For instance, perhaps your parents took out a life insurance policy and listed you as the beneficiary, meaning that the policy pays out to you when they pass away.

Typically, this happens outside of the will. The money never really enters the estate. It just goes directly to you, and it doesn't need to be listed in the will.

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Kathryn T. Joseph & Associates, Inc.
Executive Commons West
29425 Chagrin Blvd.
Suite 305
Cleveland, OH 44122

Toll Free: 888-335-6650
Phone: 216-245-0504
Fax: 216-765-8817
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