Mistakes in your estate planning documents can have far-reaching consequences. Something as apparently minor as a misplaced comma or a missing signature can change the meaning of a Will, Trust, or other estate planning document, or even make the document invalid.
Ohio laws are very specific about what can and cannot be included in a Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney; who can and cannot serve as a personal representative; who can and cannot be a witness to a Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney; and what formalities must be observed when signing a Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, or notarizing a document.
Ads from companies offering do-it-yourself Wills and other legal documents prompt many people to try to save a few dollars by doing it themselves or relying on software or computer programs to create estate planning documents. Others wonder whether the cost is worth hiring an estate planning attorney. Unfortunately, many of these people end up "penny rich but pound foolish." Your family will be in for a rude awakening when they learn that all or part of your Will is invalid or won’t work as you anticipated because you forgot or didn’t know about one minor detail.
But that’s how estate planning works. There are formalities which must be observed, and if you overlook or forget certain steps the document won’t do what you intended it to do. Estate planning documents need to be done right. When the time comes that you need them to work, it’s usually too late to go back and make changes or do them again either because someone has become incapacitated or has passed away.
If you don’t do it right the first time, your family will spend thousands of dollars working with a qualified Ohio probate and estate planning attorney to fix mistakes that could have been avoided.
The more complicated your financial situation, the more important it is that you work with an experienced probate and estate planning attorney. For example, if you're divorced, remarried, or own a business, an Ohio estate planning lawyer can help. If you have children under the age of 18 or a child with a disability, you could benefit from working with a probate lawyer. And if you want to leave any of your estate to charity, are holding assets in a 401(K) or IRA, or your estate is large enough to be subject to federal or state estate tax, you should hire an estate planning attorney. If you don’t work with an experienced Ohio estate planning and probate attorney, you risk forfeiting a large chunk of your estate to the IRS and/or the state auditor’s office.
If you want to create any kind of Trust documents, it’s imperative that you work with a skilled and experienced Ohio estate planning attorney. Trust documents are complicated and are governed by special rules. If you don’t follow the rules, your Trust might be void.
You should also consider working with an experienced professional if you will be leaving behind significant assets, including life insurance. And if you’ve been divorced or have step-children, there are added complexities in your estate planning that a skilled and experienced professional can evaluate. A good lawyer will have the expertise to get the details right, and the experience to help guide you through what could be difficult decisions.
A good estate planning attorney does more than just prepare documents. He will take the time to learn about you and your unique situation, your values, and what you care about. He will explain the impact of every decision you make, and coach you through those decisions so you end up with a plan that you want, that you are happy with, and that you know will work.
An experienced probate and estate planning attorney will also know the laws and tax implications of your decisions and will apply them to your unique situation. Online tools struggle to capture some of the nuance.
Working with a skilled and experienced Ohio probate and estate planning attorney will give you peace of mind in knowing that your estate planning documents were prepared by an experienced professional with over 23 years experience providing probate and estate planning services to people throughout Ohio.
As your life changes, you will need to revisit your estate planning documents and update your estate plan. Working with an attorney you know and trust will make that process easier as you can make minor changes to your estate plan.
If you need an experienced Ohio estate planning and probate attorney, contact Wolfe Legal Services today.
I have more than 23 years experience providing probate and estate planning services to people throughout greater Columbus, including Dublin, Worthington, Westerville, Bexley, Delaware, Upper Arlington, New Albany, Marysville, Hilliard, Delaware, and Newark, and throughout Franklin County, Delaware County, Pickaway County, Fairfield County, Union County, and Licking County. Call or Text (614) 263-5297 any time or complete our secure, confidential, and free online form located on the home page.