10 Expert Tips on Estate Planning In Ohio
Everyone needs estate planning. It’s not just for wealthy people or those with children. For the citizens of The Buckeye State, an estate plan acts as a roadmap for the estate’s executor, and as a guide for family members during probate. If you have any assets, estate planning is crucial for protecting your property from legal challenges or financial hardships should they occur.
The following list of 10 tips are designed to highlight some of the strategies used by top financial planners in Ohio.
1. Determine Your Estate Planning Goals and Objectives
The first step is to determine the goals and objectives you wish to accomplish through an estate plan. For example, an important objective could be the preservation of wealth through avoiding or minimizing estate taxes.
Other goals might include reducing probate process time, providing for special needs beneficiaries, preserving family heirlooms, or even protecting heirs from financially irresponsible behavior.
If you have children or grandchildren, it’s common to ensure that they are taken care of properly with an estate plan that keeps your wishes and desires alive even after your passing.
2. Decide Who Will Be Your Executor
An estate plan should designate an executor or executrix who will carry out the wishes of your estate plan after your death. Your financial planner may also want to appoint backup executors in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to perform their duties as the administrator to your estate.
It is important that you choose someone with enough time, financial resources, knowledge, and familiarity with your estate to ensure they are able to perform their tasks without much assistance from legal professionals.
3. Determine How You Want Your Assets Distributed After Death
It’s important to distribute your assets after you die for two main reasons. First, it ensures that responsible people handle the distribution of all your belongings according to what you wanted upon your death.
People without an estate plan often leave out important instructions for how their assets should be distributed. When you plan ahead, the executor can distribute assets efficiently while ensuring heirs receive their inheritance according to your wishes.
Second, transfers of stocks and other assets have historically been subject to capital gains taxes, which can take a hefty chunk out of monies left by inheritance.
Determining how assets should be dispersed also allows estate planners to minimize estate taxes and protect other estate assets from unnecessary legal expenses.
4. Create a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
Professional financial planners encourage people who have elderly family members or friends that require extensive care, such as nursing home care, to create a durable power of attorney for healthcare.
This document gives a person you trust the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf when you become unwilling or unable to do so. Without this document in place, another individual may have difficulty accessing your medical records, disbursing prescription medications, and getting you admitted to a hospital.
5. Name Guardians for Minor Children
It’s encouraged that people with minor children name guardians for their children in estate planning documents. This will ensure your estate plan is carried out according to your wishes should something happen to both parents during the child’s lifetime, or if one parent becomes unable or unwilling to care for the child.
Naming a guardian for minor children is important because it ensures that the child will have someone who not only loves them, but knows what’s best for them in case anything should happen to the parents. This also helps with estate planning overall, since minor children are often heirs to an estate.
6. Get a Second Opinion from an Ohio Financial Planner
A financial planner can make suggestions about the kind of wealth arrangements you want to set up for your family. Important considerations include life insurance, investment portfolios, and wills and trusts. You can get advice on what to do with the beneficiaries for individual retirement account (IRA) plans, life insurance policies, and charitable bequests.
A financial advisor can educate you about the numerous estate planning tools available that can help individuals minimize or avoid paying estate taxes while fulfilling their personal objectives. By obtaining a second opinion from estate planning attorneys in Ohio, estate planners can compare the pros and cons of each estate planning strategy that is available.
7. Ensure You Meet All Required Filing Deadlines
In Ohio, you need to be aware of when estate tax returns, inheritance tax returns, and income tax returns are due. These deadlines may change so it’s important to be on top of filing requirements and dates.
8. Keep Your Estate Planning Documents Updated
Estate plans should be updated periodically as life circumstances change. This includes updating estate planning documents to reflect changes in estate tax laws and estate tax exemptions. For example, if you own a second home or other property that was not included on your estate tax return as an estate asset as of the date your estate plan was drafted, you may be required to include it as part of your estate for estate tax purposes.
9. Hire an Independent Estate Planner
For most people in Ohio, estate planning is a complicated process which involves thorough research and attention to detail. People need help from experienced professionals who have a thorough understanding of state and federal estate planning laws.
Although many individuals believe they can complete their own estate planning documents without help, consulting with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner (CFP®), will allow you to feel confident that your plan goes according to your wishes.
10. Review Your Estate Plan At least Once a Year
It is generally recommended to have a financial advisor review estate planning documents once per year to ensure they are still accurate and reflect your current life circumstances, goals, and objectives.
Although estate plans should be reviewed more frequently under certain circumstances, it is good practice that people review their estate plans at least once per year.
An estate plan is a legal document providing guidance for your assets at the time of death. It includes who will receive assets, how assets should be distributed, and the person you want to manage your final affairs.
For many people creating an estate plan can be overwhelming or seem like too much of an inconvenience for right now. But having a plan provides protection against future issues, such as guardianship of minor children, accessing life insurance proceeds on behalf of beneficiaries, and even protecting pets (who often get lost or end up in shelters during difficult times).