Our estate planning attorneys provide a full range of services designed to meet the specific estate planning needs of each individual we serve. We provide estate planning and asset management counsel in a wide range of areas, including simple wills, powers of attorney, living wills, trusts, and Medicaid planning. In some cases, you should consider a trust as well. Our estate planning lawyers can help you understand which documents make sense for you.
A will is a straightforward legal document that instructs your executor how to distribute your assets after your death. If you have minor children, a will also allows you to designate who will act as their legal guardian and who will manage their money. As family and life circumstances change, it is important to keep your will updated.
A trust is a legal document that can supplement or replace a will. It is a private contract designed to avoid probate entirely and its general purpose is to manage the allocation of property by giving benefits to several beneficiaries. A trust differs from a will in that a trust can be used while its maker is still living. Trusts are more useful for estates with significant assets and for tax avoidance purposes. The estate planning attorneys at Wiles Richards have experience with all forms of trust preparation, including A-B trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts (GRATs), generation-skipping trusts, and qualified domestic trusts (QDOTs).
Planning for long-term care in the face of a loved one’s or spouse’s illness requires thoughtful, compassionate advice from a trusted resource. We work with family members and spouses to thoroughly review financial circumstances to develop a comprehensive individual plan to properly address the needs and goals of everyone involved. The Medicaid rules are complex and specific to the state of Ohio. With proper planning, we can maximize assets and protect income.
Many people assume that having a will means their estate will not go through the probate court. This is not necessarily correct. Probate is the process by which a deceased individual’s assets are distributed to his or her beneficiaries. While careful estate planning can sometimes eliminate the need for distribution of assets through the probate court, this is not always practical or possible. As a result, a large number of estates, including those in which the decedent had a will, must pass through the probate court to ensure proper distribution.
In Ohio, the probate process involves multiple steps and requires meticulous attention to detail. These steps are governed by a strict timeline and involve rigid notice requirements. The attorneys at Wiles Richards work side by side with executors to help expedite the probate process and manage what can be the overwhelming task of estate administration.
Our attorneys also handle a wide variety of other legal matters that fall under the probate court’s jurisdiction, including:
Will contests (fraud, duress, undue influence)
Concealment of assets
A Brief Overview of the Probate Process
The first step in opening the decedent’s estate is to file the necessary forms and paperwork with the local probate court, along with the will if the decedent had one.
If no objections are filed, the court will appoint an executor to handle the estate administration. The executor’s duties include the following:
gather all property of the decedent
receive all payments and income due to the estate
identify and notify the next of kin
if there is a will, identify and notify all beneficiaries
investigate the validity of any creditors’ claims and pay them if they are legitimate
prepare and file tax returns
distribute assets to the heirs
The next step is to file an inventory of the assets, which is a list of all the property that will be distributed through the probate process.
In the final step, the executor must ensure that all debts are paid, make final distributions to heirs or beneficiaries, and file a final account with the probate court. If no objections are filed, the estate is closed.