Columbus Estate Planning Attorney Points Out Headaches Caused by Failing to Prepare a Legacy Succession Plan
While many people transfer the bulk of their estate through a living trust, individuals who fail to set up or fund a trust or prepare a last will and testament can experience serious problems. Even if you have a living trust, you still typically need at least a simple will to cover residual property not transferred into the trust. In this blog post, our Columbus estate planning lawyers provide an overview of difficulties created by failing to prepare a will or similar estate planning document such as a living trust.
The Individual Administering Your Estate Might Not Be The Person You Would Choose: When your will designates an individual to oversee the administration of your estate, the probate judge will typically respect and abide by your decision. When a decedent fails to draft a will, the judge will appoint an individual to administer the estate based on the judge’s discretion and state law. This decision-making process obviously creates the risk that the person selected will not be the individual you would have picked. The court likely will consider a fair number of family members, so the cost of the selection process will deplete a portion of the funds in the estate. If you do not have a role in the selection of the administrator, this might also lead to higher fees paid to the person who handles the process, which means your legacy has less net value for those to whom you wish to leave your property and money.
Frustration of Your Intentions Regarding Disposition of Your Estate: Ohio courts typically will not disregard or modify your intentions regarding the distribution of the assets in your will. However, the lack of a will means that your estate will be distributed based on the Ohio intestate succession law. The intestate law establishes a statutory priority and formulas for the distribution of your property that a court will typically enforce. These arrangements might deviate dramatically from your intentions and priorities. State law will control in this situation without the judge making an effort to ascertain your objectives, intentions, or plan.
The Obligation to Pay Estate Taxes Might Fall on the Wrong People: Certain assets pass to a successor through a beneficiary designation, such as a retirement plan. Other assets might pass through intestate succession to another family member who essentially covers the taxes for the retirement plan. Since the estate taxes will be paid through the probate court, the tax burden associated with the retirement plan might fall on the wrong party since the proceeds of the retirement plan are disbursed outside the probate process.
Diminished Value of Estate Distributed to Family and Other Beneficiaries: Careful estate planning can minimize administrative costs, tax obligations, probate fees, and other expenses that might deplete the value of your estate. Most people would prefer that their friends, family, and approved charities receive the bulk of their assets rather than courts and state or federal tax entities.
These are just a few problems that can be created by failing to engage in any legacy succession planning. A well thought out estate plan can prevent wasted time and money, as well as avert unnecessary aggravation. If you have questions about wills, estate planning, living trusts, or the probate process, we welcome the opportunity to talk to you and answer your questions. We invite you to call Dawes Legal, LLC at 614-733-9999 or submit an inquiry form through this website to schedule your initial consultation.