Kathryn T. Joseph & Associates, Inc.

Cleveland Estate Planning Blog

A pending divorce does not cut your ex out of your estate plan

I was working with a client recently who had just gotten divorced. He wanted to update his estate plan to make sure that all of his ex-wife's rights to his estate had actually been terminated. Naturally, if he passed away, he did not want to leave her his money and physical property. He wanted it to go to his children.

We talked about how divorce can often terminate some of these rights automatically, though not all of them, and how that meant it was important to comb through the plan, just as he was doing. But it also got me thinking. What if he had passed away before his divorce got finalized?

Why is in-home care so costly?

The draw of in-home care, for elderly people who need assistance, is fairly clear: Staying in the house gives them comfort and stability that they just do not get if they move into an assisted living center. People often have no desire to leave the house, especially if they have spent decades living there.

However, the cost is very high. Some estimates put it at about $19 per hour. That may not be much for an hour or two of assistance a day, but people often need care around the clock. That can run it all the way up to around $170,000 annually. Suddenly, it moves beyond affordable for many people.

Transfer-on-death designation and survivorship affidavits

When someone passes away, the way that their assets move on to their heirs and beneficiaries is very important. It is crucial to plan for this in advance, something that people often put off because they feel like they have plenty of time.

It's never too early to start planning. Just think about how it will impact your family if you pass away with no plan in place, and this importance becomes clear.

A trust gives you more privacy than a will

I recently worked with a client who was very concerned about the lack of privacy with a will. After all, these documents are public record. After you pass away, anyone can technically look at a copy of that will.

This client had more assets than many people realized. They felt that their finances should be private, and they didn't really want that information getting out. Some people don't worry about that at all, but it is very important to others. Just knowing that the will is public makes them feel like people can see into different aspects of their life that they don't think should be out in the open.

Does a disinherited person get a copy of the will?

A person who is disinherited is typically either an heir who would naturally expect to inherit money but was left out of the will or another person -- even if not related to the individual who passed away -- who was named in a prior will and then removed from the most current will. For instance, a person could initially put a close family friend in the will, lose touch with them over the years, and then remove them from the next will. In other cases, people cut out one child while leaving everything to other children.

So, do people who get disinherited need to get a copy of the deceased's will? After all, a "will reading" generally does not happen these days. Written copies are simply distributed to the beneficiaries.

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.

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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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