Estate Planning text on paper

Estate Planning FAQs 

Gregory, L. Williams, Jr., Esq., Partner. Feb. 14, 2023

Creating an estate plan allows you to set forth detailed instructions about how your estate and final affairs should be settled when you’re no more. Surprisingly, many individuals are uninformed about how estate planning works, their available options, and the documents they need to put in place. In fact, some individuals still believe that estate planning is only for those with a large estate or assets. 

According to the 2022 Wills and Estate Planning Study by, about 40% of respondents don’t have a will because they “haven’t gotten around it.” A reliable Ohio estate planning attorney can answer some of your frequently asked questions about estate planning in the Buckeye State and help you make intelligent decisions. 

My legal team enjoys guiding clients in the matters of estate planning. Our attorneys are available to discuss your situation, explore your possible legal options, and determine the right plan that best fits your unique needs. We proudly serve clients across Columbus, Ohio, and surrounding areas throughout Central Ohio. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Estate Planning 

How Do I Start Estate Planning? 

Having a sense of direction before drafting your estate plan is crucial. Before you start, you should determine your goals for estate planning and create an inventory of all your assets and property. Also, you should consider who you would like to inherit certain assets, how your debts should be repaid, and who you want to help manage your personal, financial, health, and legal affairs. 

Do I Need a Will? 

Yes. A will is a vital estate planning tool that allows you to leave detailed instructions about how your assets and property should be managed, distributed, or disposed of when you’re gone. Without a valid will, your estate would be administered using Ohio’s intestate succession laws. 

What’s the Difference Between a Will & a Trust? 

A will is a legal document that sets forth detailed instructions about how a person (testator) wants their assets and property to be distributed or disposed of when they die. Conversely, a trust is a fiduciary relationship that allows a person (trustor) to hold the trust property for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Here are some differences between a will and a trust: 

  • A will must go through probate to determine its validity. Conversely, a trust can help your estate bypass probate. 

  • A will is a matter of public record. In contrast, a trust helps keep your affairs private. 

  • A will allows you to appoint a guardian for minor children. Conversely, a trust allows you to store away assets for minor children until a future date. 

  • Also, it is cheaper to create a will. However, creating a trust is expensive upfront. 

  • With a will, your estate assets will be subject to estate and inheritance taxes. Conversely, a trust can help reduce or avoid estate and inheritance taxes. 

What Is Probate & Should It Be Avoided? 

Probate is a court-supervised process that usually occurs when someone dies. It involves gathering and evaluating the decedent’s assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to rightful inheritors. 

However, probate is usually expensive, time-consuming, and a matter of public record. Also, your survivors won’t have any access to your assets and funds until probate is finalized. Among the possible options to bypass probate is by creating a living trust. 

What Do I Do After the Death of a Family Member? 

When a family member dies, you should do the following: 

  • Get a legal pronouncement of death and a death certificate. 

  • Notify family members, friends, close relatives, coworkers, employers, insurance providers, financial institutions, and other concerned parties. 

  • Make the necessary burial or funeral arrangements. 

  • Make adequate provisions for their surviving loved ones, minor children, and pets. 

  • Locate the deceased person’s estate plan, including their will and trust. 

  • Initiate the probate proceedings. 

What Is a Power of Attorney (POA)? 

A power of attorney (POA) can be described as a written document that allows an individual (the principal) to authorize another person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) to act on the principal’s behalf in certain property, financial, tax, health, or legal matters – in the event that they become unavailable or unable to do so. 

Can I Draft a Will by Myself? 

In Ohio, a person who is 18 years or older, of sound mind, and not under duress or undue influence, may be eligible to make a will. Also, all the content of the handwritten or holographic will must be written entirely in the testator’s handwriting. However, there are several potential issues with handwritten wills. Therefore, it is advisable that you hire an attorney to help create your will for detailed guidance and to ensure that it is legal and valid. 

Do I Need an Attorney to Create My Estate Plan? 

Although, you do not legally need an attorney when drafting your estate plan. Regardless, seeking experienced guidance and advocacy is crucial to making informed decisions and avoiding possible issues. A knowledgeable attorney can enlighten you about what to consider before drafting your estate plan and your possible legal options, and help create a personalized estate plan that best suits your unique needs. 

Seek Trusted Legal Advice 

Planning for life’s uncertainties can never be too early. By creating a detailed estate plan, your surviving loved ones can achieve peace of mind from knowing your exact wishes when you’re no more. Our attorneys are fully prepared to answer all your different questions and concerns about estate planning and the probate process in Ohio. 

As your attorney, we can enlighten you about the different options available to you and help determine the ideal choice for your specific situation. Also, we will help draft important estate planning documents, including wills, living trusts, powers of attorney, advance directives, and more. Above all, our attorneys will work intelligently to address your various concerns and help you achieve your estate planning goals. 

Contact us to arrange a case assessment with a skilled estate planning attorney. We have the resources to give you the reliable advocacy and trusted guidance you need to make informed decisions about your estate planning and family’s future. We proudly serve clients across Columbus, Ohio, and surrounding areas throughout Central Ohio.