Estate Planning and Probate Lawyer in Cleveland Protects Your Assets and Loved Ones
Thinking about death is never easy. Not planning for the inevitable, however, can cost your loved ones unecessary stress and expenses. An experienced estate planning and probate lawyer in Cleveland, Sherry Pidala, helps you protect your assets and loved ones with thorough planning.
Understanding Probate Law: Why You Need a Last Will and Testament
Estate planning aims to make the process of transferring your assets after your death as easy and as least costly as possible for your loved ones. A Last Will and Testament is an important estate planning tool. A will instructs the Probate Court what is to happen with “probate” assets at the time of a person’s death. The Probate Court oversees the administration of a person’s “probate” estate to ensure their stated intentions are followed.
Probate vs. Non-Probate Assets
Part of what makes probate law confusing to many of us is not knowing what probate assets are vs. non-probate assets. Each gets handled differently upon a person’s death, so understanding the difference is the first step in your estate planning.
Non-Probate Assets: Not Managed Through a Will
Non-probate assets are ones that will not go through the probate process. These assets are ones that are
- Held by an individual, jointly with another person(s) with “rights of survivorship” OR
- Have a designated payable on death beneficiary(s) OR
- Held in a trust.
The Probate Court has no authority over these assets; likewise, the Court does not require the person’s Executor or other representative to report them to the Court. In short, the Probate Court does not oversee the distribution of “non-probate” assets after a person’s death in any manner. Instead, the “survivor” or desginated beneficiary usually only needs to present of a death certificate to the financial institution.
Probate Assets: Managed Through a Will
Unlike non-probate assets, probate assets require management through a person’s will. Probate assets include
- Policies and accounts titled in the person’s sole name
- Assets that have no named survivor(s) or beneficiary(s)
- Assets not named in a Living Trust
Common examples of probate assets include automobiles, bank accounts, and real estate in only one person’s name with no beneficiary designated. These assets must be reported to the Probate Court in order for their distribution to occur. Without a Last Will and Testament in place, the laws of Ohio will determine what the distribution will be. In such cases, it’s not uncommon for family members to disagree and make the probate process last longer and cost more financially and emotionally. With a Will in place, though, you can reduce these conflicts and expenses for your loved ones.
How a Last Will and Testament Works: Naming an Executor of Your Will
First, as mentioned above, a Will outlines how you want all your probate assets distributed after your death. It has no authority over non-probate assets. Also, a Will has no effect or authority until such time as the person dies. Finally, a Will establishes the person’s request for appointment of an Executor. An Executor is a person named in the Will (or appointed by the Court) who is given the legal responsibility to oversee and carry out a deceased person’s wishes and handle their financial obligations. In other words, the Executor of a Will
- Follows the Will’s instructions and distributes assets accordingly
- Maintains the property (i.e., performs upkeep) until the estate is settled
- Pays bills and taxes for the estate
- Makes court appearances for the estate
The Probate Court usually follows the Will’s appointment. However, it is not required to follow it if there is an issue with the person’s ability to serve in the role. As a result, choosing the right Executor of your Will takes careful consideration. An experienced attorney can help you through this decision-making process and suggest putting alternates in place in the event the named Executor can’t or refuses to serve when needed.
Assets Held in a Living Trust Agreement
If assets are held in trust, the Trust Agreement dictates what happens with those assets and designates a Trustee to handle the Agreement. A Living Trust can be a simple arrangement. For instance, it can simply require selling the assets and distributing the proceeds as indicated. Other trusts involve more complex arrangements, such as terms of retaining some or all assets in the trust for future disbursement upon the occurrence of certain events, such as the recipient attaining a specified age.
Explore Your Estate Planning Options and Needs with Sherry Pidala, Esq.
Creating a Will or Living trust involves careful planning and thorough understanding of Probate Law. Sherry Pidala, Esq. thoroughly explores all your estate planning options and needs when you work with Pidala Law Office. At your initial meeting, Sherry will ask about your needs, how your assets are titled, and whether or not assets have designated beneficiaries. Moreover, she’ll ask you about your estate planning goals and priorities. The conversation will include all of the following considerations to protect your voice, your assets, and your loved ones:
- Understanding “probate” vs. “non-probate” assets
- Re-enforcing the importance of a Last Will and Testament
- Exploring if a Trust makes sense for your situation
- Establishing Durable Powers of Attorney for financial purposes
- Drafting Health Care Directives (Living Wills and Powers of Attorney for Health Care)
Pidala Law Office Serves Estates of All Sizes
Whether your estate is large or small, simple or complicated, Sherry wants to help you plan effectively. She will use extraordinary care and diligence to develop an estate plan that meets your unique needs and budget.
Manage the Probate Process with an Experienced Probate Lawyer in Cleveland on Your Side
Probate administration is the court-involved process after an individual’s death which aims to ensure that an individual’s Last Will and Testament wishes are respected and followed. During this process, client’s are oftentimes still grieving for their loved one. Attorney Pidala reduces emotional distress during this time. Sherry has handled probate cases for over 30 years. Hence, she understands how to navigate the Court’s laws and procedures with ease while providing her her clients with the compassion and professional guidance they need to manage this process as quickly as possible.