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Estate Planning Areas

Estate Planning FAQ's

Who can make a will?

Pursuant to Ohio law, anyone can make a will if he or she is over the age of 18 and of sound mind and memory.


How do you determine if the individual is of “sound mind and memory”?

People ask all the time about “sound mind and memory” especially in the context of elderly clients and estate planning needs. A testator only needs to demonstrate the following: (1) the testator knows what she is signing; (2) the testator knows the nature and extent of his or her property; (3) the testator must know the names and relationship of his family members; and (4) the testator must know his or her relationship to members of his or her family.


What is a “testator”?

“Testator” is lawyer speak for the person who is actually signing the will. “Maker” is another term that is commonly used to refer to a “testator.”


Can a will be changed after it is made?

Absolutely. A testator can change his or her will at any time through a properly executed codicil.


What is “probate”?

“Probate” refers to the process where a will is submitted to a probate court. The executor named in the will, working with an attorney, submits reports to the court of the property held by the estate and how it will be transferred to beneficiaries.


Can an individual living out-of-state be the executor of a will?

Generally, the answer is yes for Ohio. However, depending on the local rules set by the probate court, the court may require someone residing within the county to be appointed as a local administrator.


What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney or POA is a document a principal signs appointing an agent, or attorney in fact, to sign in the name of the principal.


How much power does an attorney in fact have?

That depends, generally speaking, an attorney in fact has as much or as little power as is delineated in the Power of Attorney.


What is a Health Care Power of Attorney?

A Health Care Power of Attorney or HCPOA is a standardized document someone signs who appoints specific individuals to make health care related decisions for the principal.


What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is an advanced directive an individual can sign directing health care professionals as to the individual’s desire as to whether or not to continue life sustaining treatment.


Do I need a trust?

That depends. Generally speaking, trusts are used for advanced tax planning for high value estates and/or if the testator owns property in multiple jurisdictions.


Does a Living Trust avoid all taxes?

Contrary to popular belief, holding property in a trust will not avoid all taxes. However, through proper planning, some taxes can be significantly reduced. The process of trust administration will still require professional assistance to be sure the proper taxes are paid and a proper accounting is made to the beneficiaries.

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