The Importance of Including Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan

Estate planning and technology - The Law Office of David B. FerrellAccording to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, 61% of American adults say they don’t have a current will. But even those who have prepared this important estate planning document may want to take another look to ensure that it adequately covers the distribution of their “digital assets.” Issues surrounding these digital assets (anything at all that’s stored electronically—e.g. photos, music, emails, tax records) are increasingly prevalent in estate and probate law. A recent study by McAfee showed that the average person in the U.S. has electronic assets valued at around $55,000. [Read more…]

Who will take care of your pets when you’re gone?

Canton, OH estate planning attorneyWhen most people go through the estate planning process, they try to account as best they can for their children, grandchildren, and close friends.

But what about another close member of the family, the furry one that is always begging for your attention?

With a pet trust, you can leave money to be used for the care of your dog or other pet. You simply put someone in charge of managing and spending money, as they follow a written set of instructions that you had previously provided.

Ohio, along with many states, now allows for trusts for animals without a human beneficiary. [Read more…]

What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will in Ohio?

Intestacy law - The Law Office of David B. FerrellWriting a Last Will and Testament (often referred to as a Will) is a way to help ensure that your money and belongings are distributed according to your wishes following your death. However, many people pass away without having drafted this important estate planning document. Because the laws regarding distribution of property and assets following death are different in various states, the specifics of how your estate is distributed if you die without a will can also vary depending on where you live. [Read more…]

Choosing an Estate Executor

Estate Planning Executor - The Law Office of David B. FerrellAlong with choosing an experienced Ohio estate planning lawyer, picking the right person to handle the execution of your estate is an important part of your estate planning process. Appointing an appropriate estate executor can help make sure that your wishes are carried out properly following your death.

The Estate Executor’s Responsibilities:

Before choosing someone to act as executor, you should understand what the executor’s responsibilities are in Ohio. [Read more…]

In estate planning, don’t hold back information

Give your estate planning attorney information needed - The Law Office of David B. FerrellAs we’ve talked about before, everyone needs an estate plan to plan for the end of life and take care of their assets and family.

For most, estate planning is a tricky subject: it involves planning for things we’d rather not think about and examining family dynamics in new, sometimes uncomfortable ways. Many family relationships can be complicated or messy—think about the grandchildren worried about funding college, adult children whose finances are in trouble, or other adults who remarry someone disliked by the rest of the family. [Read more…]

An Estate Executor’s Responsibilities in Ohio

Estate executor responsibilities - The Law Office of David B. FerrellIf you’ve been named the executor of a loved one’s estate, it’s important that you fulfill your duties within the scope of Ohio probate law. An experienced estate planning attorney can help guide you through this difficult time to ensure that your family member’s assets are distributed according to his or her wishes. Although the specifics can vary greatly depending on numerous factors (including the size of the estate and the nature and content of the estate plan), below are basic guidelines of what you should do if a loved one passes away and you’ve been named their estate executor. [Read more…]

Can a will be contested?

last-willIn life, we find that things can be unfair—even among family.

As an estate planning attorney, I see this sometimes happen after a person’s family member has passed away. As the wishes of the will are carried out, a child, spouse, or grandchild may feel unfairly treated.

In this circumstance, that person may contest the will. There are requirements to contest a will after the author’s death.

To contest a will after the author’s death, a person must establish one of the following:

  • Undue influence. This is very tough to prove, but the idea is that the deceased person was heavily pressured by someone to change the will.
  • Fraud. This is also difficult to prove. Basically, this means that the will’s author was tricked into signing a will, believing it was some other document (such as a deed).
  • Improper execution. If the will was not prepared or executed properly under the laws of the state in which it was created, it could be thrown out in court later.
  • Lack of capacity. If the will’s author wasn’t mentally capable of making such choices at the time the document was created, it could be declared invalid.

When preparing your will, you should be mindful of the possibility that it may be contested. By seeking the help and guidance of an estate planning attorney, you can make sure that your will is executed properly and ensure that none of the above legal grounds for revision apply to your document.  There are even ways to validate your will BEFORE your death so that there can be no contesting it after you pass.

If you have any questions on estate planning, feel free to contact an experienced estate planning attorney for guidance.

Top estate planning myths that can hurt you

Estate Planning Myths - The Law Office of David B. FerrellIn my years as an estate planning and administration attorney, I’ve heard a lot of myths and misconceptions about estate planning. Estate planning is a complicated subject, and the resulting confusion to cause people to make costly, time-consuming, and stress-inducing mistakes. A recent article in Forbes clears up the top estate planning myths that can make you and your family worse off. Here are the highlights:

#1 Estate planning is only for very wealthy people. [Read more…]

Ohio Guardianship Law

Ohio guardianship - The Law Office of David B. FerrellAccording to Ohio law, a Guardian is someone who is appointed by the probate court to be responsible for the care and management of another person, and/or their estate (this person is called the “Ward”). There are two types of individuals for whom a Guardian can be appointed. The first is a minor (under 18 years old) who either does not have parents, or whose parents are unsuitable to have custody of the child. A Guardian can also be appointed for anyone who is mentally impaired to such a degree that they are incapable of taking care of themselves and/or their property, and any other persons they are legally responsible for (such as minor children). [Read more…]

Essential Estate Planning Documents

Estate planning documents - The Law Office of David B. FerrellAlthough estate plans can vary depending on several factors, including the size and nature of the estate and the preparer’s wishes, there are numerous documents that should be included in most estate plans. These include the following:

Last Will and Testament

When considering preparing an estate plan, the Will is usually one of the first things that come to mind. Put simply, a Will is a written document that states how you would like your property and other assets distributed upon your death. [Read more…]