Kathryn T. Joseph & Associates, Inc.

Cleveland Estate Planning Blog

4 tips to help prevent estate disputes through conversation

If you want to prevent your children from fighting over your estate after you pass away, one of the best things you can do is to sit down and have a conversation with them. Tell them about your plans. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

This can eliminate disputes in two ways. First off, it helps to eliminate surprises so that they do not feel like their expectations were not met. Secondly, it gives them a chance to talk to you directly about your decisions, rather than arguing with siblings about what you would have wanted.

Understanding your non-probate assets

You have been thinking a lot about the future. You love your family and have been planning ahead. For a few years now, you have diligently managed and saved your money. Now you want to create an estate plan so that you can transfer your savings and property on to your heirs after you pass away.

Many of your assets will be transferred through the legal process of probate. However, some assets are non-probate assets and will not follow that distribution process.

Do not put off estate planning

A man called me last year to find out more about estate planning. I told him about some of the options he had, and he said he would call me back. He jokingly assured me that he would not need the estate plan any time soon, so he would get to it later.

When I never heard back from him, I got a bit worried. I asked around a little bit and found out that he had been tragically killed in a car accident just a month after we spoke.

Elder law and putting the focus on life for Ohio elders

Many of the discussions we have in our legal practice revolve around helping families with elders foster health and happiness for everyone. During one such discussion, a member of our team talked about how much of the terminology associated with elder law probably sounds really negative to people without a legal background. This made us think for a few moments and we all agreed that this is probably the case.

Language such as estate planning, guardianship, nursing homes and long-term care may sound more like death planning instead of life planning. Believe it or not, this realization was a real eye-opener to most of our elder law attorneys.

Are you a caregiver? Manage stress with these tips

If you are a baby boomer, you may be facing a challenge that more and more boomers face every day: Caring for an elderly parent. Boomers who have entered their senior years must now provide care for their infirm parents. Whether your mother or father lives independently, in a care facility or at your own home, caregiving has become a major part of your routine.

Caregiving can be emotionally and physically draining. If you have found yourself exhausted from caring for your aging parent, you may wish to consider these stress-relieving tips.

What is probate and how does it work?

It is a wise choice to be diligent about saving and managing your money so that when you pass, you may leave as many assets as possible to your heirs. The process to complete this transfer of property after you die is called probate.

Probate is a legal process used to authenticate and distribute the instructions of a will. The process settles the deceased's debts and administers how property is passed to beneficiaries and heirs. The court decides and distributes the assets if a person dies without a will.

Long-term illness care is a major expense for Baby Boomers

Many baby boomers are concerned that a long-term illness could wipe out their retirement savings. That's because skilled nursing and assisted living can be very expensive, and Medicare only covers a limited amount of the expenses. The annual cost of long-term nursing care can range anywhere from $60,000 to $93,000. With proper planning, however, there are some resources to make long-term care for Ohio families a lot more affordable.

A traditional long-term care insurance plan can be powerful financial protection against unexpected illnesses or chronic conditions. Premiums get less expensive the younger and healthier the person is. However, it's important to obtain a policy that covers both in-home and assisted living care. Hybrid life and annuity policies can have a provision that provides money for long-term care in certain events. The amount of funds available is usually limited.

Leaving a legacy to people who are not family

Some people in Ohio may have complex estates that include a business and other assets. They may think of the business and assets as their legacy and want to make sure their spouses and children benefit from that legacy. However, people often do not take into account the fact that their loved ones may be ill-prepared to take over their businesses or manage assets. It is possible to create an estate plan that still allows loved ones to benefit financially without giving them control of the legacy.

One man who did not consider this possibility sold the business his father had started and that he had built up into a valuable enterprise. Fraught family situations made him concerned that running the business would create additional stress for his loved ones. Although he got more than $50 million for his business, his decision meant that he had nothing left of his legacy.

When your debt is greater than your estate

It is not uncommon to have some amount of debt to your name. Just about every adult has a mortgage, car payment, student loans, credit card bills and other forms of debt that they are steadily paying down. When debt swells to uncomfortable levels, though, it can lead to big questions as we get later into life.

People that have incurred a substantial amount of debt often ask what happens to it when they pass away. Will it be passed on to their children? Their spouse? Does is simply go away? Generally speaking, if your debt is greater than the value of your estate, your estate may be labeled "insolvent".

Tips for funding a trust

People in Ohio who create a trust as part of an estate plan should make sure that they also fund the trust. Without placing assets in the trust, the trust document itself is like an empty container.

Different assets are placed in a trust in different ways. For example, a deed or deed in trust must be prepared for real estate. The name on the title is then changed to indicate that the property belongs to the trust. Once a piece of real estate is placed in a trust, a person may want to contact the county auditor's office to find out whether real estate tax exemptions must be refiled and possibly the insurance agent.

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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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