Estate Planning Overview:

Estate planning is the process of planning for the maintenance and care of your assets during your lifetime, and the distribution of your assets in accordance with your wishes when you pass away. Whether you have a spouse and minor children, or are nearing retirement and need to get your affairs in order, Winkler Legal Services, LLC offers comprehensive estate planning services to meet your needs.

There is no one size fits all estate plan. Rather, an estate plan needs to mirror your most valuable relationships and assets. These priorities serve to assist in developing an estate plan that is uniquely tailored to your situation. Often the concerns revolve around providing for one’s spouse, children, and mitigating estate taxes and costs. As your central Ohio estate planning law firm, Winkler Legal Services, LLC seeks to first, get to know the clients as individuals and then to understand your concerns. My ultimate goal is to provide you, the client, with a well thought-out estate plan that accomplishes your goals and is understandable to you. A complete estate plan should provide you and your family peace of mind knowing that your affairs are in order.

Why is an Estate Plan necessary?

In simplest terms, an estate plan ensures that the transfer of your assets and property is accomplished in the most efficient and least costly manner possible and in accordance with your wishes. A properly executed estate plan seeks to address common problems ahead of time such as using gifting or other transfer of property techniques to reduce or eliminate potential estate tax issues. A properly executed estate plan seeks to minimize the assets passing through the probate process, which, in turn, reduces costs and provides faster financial support to your loved ones. Although, end of life issues are important, your estate plan needs to provide for your current needs as well. As such, there are a wide variety of options available to arrange your financial and personal assets in such a manner that provides for your present and future use and support, and for your family’s care once you have passed on. Estate planning can be as practical as creating a simple will, durable power of attorney and end of life planning, to creating and funding a revocable living trust, a limited liability company or a family limited partnership, to assist in carrying-on a family business.

The Cost of Not Having an Estate Plan:

The costs of not having an estate plan can be enormous. First, failure to have a will means your property will be distributed according to Ohio’s intestate laws. When someone dies without a will, their property and assets will pass to those individuals falling under Ohio’s default distribution and descent statute. In essence, you are deferring to the state of Ohio to determine the care of your family and the distribution of your assets upon your death. Secondly, the costs of probating an estate without an estate plan can be costly. An average probated estate can easily exceed five thousand dollars in legal fees alone, not to mention any overlooked tax issues and court costs. Third, without an estate plan your legacy will forever be lost. An estate plan not only plans for financial decisions and tax issues, but also serves to provide for your loved ones after you are gone. Lastly, an estate plan relieves your loved ones from being burdened with piecing together your affairs, gathering assets, and paying your bills, an unenviable task. In other words, it provides you and your loved ones peace of mind. Peace of mind is priceless as compared to failing to plan.

Estate Planning encompass some or all of the following:

Will: A Will is simply a legal document that expresses your wishes regarding how you want your assets and property to be distributed after your passing.

General Durable Power of Attorney: A General Durable Power of Attorney (“DPOA”) is a legal document wherein another (the “attorney in fact”) is granted authority to act on behalf of another (the “principal”). The attorney in fact is authorized to manage, transact, dispose of and liquidate the principal’s assets in accordance with the powers set forth in the DPOA.

Living Will: A Living Will is a legal directive for your medical care should you be unable to make decisions on your own. Addressing whether to continue or cease life sustaining treatment and ending artificial nourishment are some of the important life issues addressed in a Living Will.

Healthcare Power of Attorney: Similar to the Durable Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Power of Attorney grants someone else the legal authority to carry-out your wishes as set-forth in your Living Will.

Trust: A Trust is a contract which provides for a person or entity (the “Trustee”) to manage property for the benefit of another person (the “Beneficiary”) according to the terms and conditions set forth in the trust. A trust is usually funded with assets of the Grantor (the creator of the trust), but third parties can also contribute assets if desired.

Thank you to the Ohio State Bar Association for a significant portion of content on this page.