Kathryn T. Joseph & Associates, Inc.

Cleveland Estate Planning Blog

What makes a will legal in Ohio?

One of the most common questions we hear is, "What makes a will legal?" Sometimes, the person asking is worried that their final wishes won't be respected. Other times, we hear the question when someone suspects -- for one reason or another -- that a will shouldn't hold up in court if challenged.

What does the law say about wills?

Why does probate take so long in Ohio?

One of the many reasons that people hate it when an estate goes through probate is that it can take a long time to "settle" the estate and finally give the heirs their inheritance.

You can generally expect the probate process in Ohio to last a minimum of six months -- although there are ways to shorten that time considerably. The reason for the six-month minimum is that state law gives creditors six months from the deceased's date of death to serve the executor of that person's estate with claims.

Should you pre-plan you funeral or memorial service?

When people take the step of creating a last will or estate plan, one issue they often overlook is taking the time to plan for their funeral. After all, your funeral service is going to remind people of your legacy and provide comfort to your loved ones as they grieve your death. You don't have to leave all of the critical decisions to your loved ones. You could begin the process of planning your own funeral.

Your funeral could be as unique and original as you are, but you'll have a better chance of the service reflecting your values if you make the arrangements yourself. Planning your funeral now can save your loved ones a lot of stress when your time comes. It can also give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the people you love will experience a service that you planned for them.

With a blended family, you must protect your children's share

You get married and have two children. Then your spouse files for divorce. You split up, wait a few years, and get married again. Your new spouse also has two kids from a previous marriage.

This relationship lasts. As you both grow older, you decide to do your estate planning. Can you keep it simple and just leave everything that you have to your spouse? Some people call this an "I love you" will. It shows your dedication to your spouse and helps take care of them when you're not around.

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.

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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
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