Estate Planning & Probate

We often recommend as a basis for any estate plan, that a will, a general durable power of attorney, living will, and health care power of attorney be included.

A Simple Will is a will that does not include trust language or other provisions that are designed to minimize federal or state estate taxes that might be assessed against a larger estate upon death or address income tax matters. While a Simple Will is sufficient for many people, others have minor children or estates significant in size that warrant more complicated estate planning measures and so we work with clients to include trusts in their estate plan as appropriate. For example, parents may wish to distribute inheritances to their children over a period of time so the child does not inherit a large sum at once. A trust can be set up to distribute sums at certain ages or upon achieving specific goals such as a college education. While trusts are a greater cost initially, they may more effectively preserve assets, address taxes and distribute your wealth upon death. Generally, with a Trust your property will not go through the probate process when you die and this allows for privacy for matters of your estate without court intervention.

Probating an estate can be avoided or reduced by creating and funding a living trust, establishing transfer on death accounts, and re-titling certain property to transfer on death to another person. These items can be accomplished with a complete estate plan after a review of your assets and liabilities. However, probate is not always something to be avoided and specific circumstances may warrant the probate of an estate as a preferred alternative.

The act of probating an estate when one dies involves admitting a will to the probate court in the county where the deceased person, known as the “Decedent,” resided when they died. Pursuant to state law, the court has the authority to oversee the distribution of wealth pursuant to the Decedent’s Will. The law requires that a certain procedure be followed, that notice be provided to heirs at law as well as those persons named in the Will, and that timelines be followed.

Thomas Law Group advises and assists clients with preparing and entering into Prenuptial Agreements, also referred to as Antenuptial Agreements.  We recommend that anyone contemplating marriage at least consider the benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement.

A Prenuptial Agreement not only addresses the possibility of the marriage ending in divorce, but can also help plan for how finances will be handled during the marriage.  The distribution of property and assets upon the death of one of the spouses in a marriage can also be addressed in a Prenuptial Agreement.  In this sense, a Prenuptial Agreement is more of an estate planning tool and is immensely helpful in providing clarity upon the death of a spouse.  This is especially true when the parties contemplating marriage have been married before, have children from a prior marriage or relationship, or are getting married later in life.

 A Prenuptial Agreement will allow both spouses in the marriage to provide for their children, family members, etc. that are not of the current marriage.  Prenuptial Agreements are also useful tools for anyone getting married who may own a business, brings substantial assets into the marriage, has inherited wealth (or the anticipation of inheriting wealth), or when there is a large disparity of income between the two future spouses.

In Ohio, a Prenuptial Agreement must be entered into prior to the marriage date, as Ohio does not provide for post-nuptial agreements.  We suggest that any person considering a Prenuptial Agreement do so well in advance of the wedding date, and that both parties obtain their own legal counsel.