Barney DeBrosse offers a full array of estate planning services to suit any individual or family needs. We are here help to helps Ohioans at all stages of their lives from young people just starting their first job to seniors who need assistance with VA benefits or Medicare planning.

What does an Estate Plan Include?

A basic estate may include any combination of the following:

Durable General Power of Attorney
A durable general power of attorney can be more simply referred to as a financial power of attorney. With a durable general power of attorney you allow someone else to make financial decisions for you. Durable general powers of attorney can go into effect immediately or they can be springing which means they only take effect when you become disabled.

Health Care Power of Attorney
A health care power of attorney allows you to designate someone else to make health care decision on your behalf if you are unable to do so. For example, if you are in a car accident and subsequently in a coma, the person you have designated as your health care power of attorney would step in to make your health care decisions.

Living Will
The purpose of a living will is to make your wishes known regarding end of life decisions. In the living will you can designate what types of treatment you want to receive in the event you are incapacitated and near death. The most common reason to execute a living will is to ensure that your life is not artificially prolonged after doctors have declared that you are brain dead and cannot recover. The living will removes the burden of making end of life decision from your family members.

Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament, or more commonly referred to as simply as a will designates who will receive your property when you pass away. A will can distribute property in general terms such as “all my property to my children” or in specific terms such as “my 1969 Ford Mustang to my brother.” A will also allows you to make a recommendation to the court on who will take care of your children if you pass away. Any property that is distributed pursuant to a will must go through probate.

Trust
The most common type of trust is a trust that is created immediately. This type of trust is referred to as a living trust. Another type of trust is one that is created upon your death. This is refereed to as a testamentary trust. A trust is similar to a will in that is distributes your property when you pass away but unlike a will, property distributed through a trust does not go through probate. A trust is also much more flexible and customizable than a will. It also allows you to exercise much more control over your property. For example, a trust can include provisions that provide a financial incentive to your children to graduate from college.

Transfer On Death Designations
Some property can be passed by a transfer on death designation. For example a transfer on death designation can be written directly into a deed for your home. Transfer on death designates can also transfer most bank accounts, retirement accounts, and vehicles. Transfer on death designations transfer property outside of probate.

Common Questions:

  • Does a will avoid probate in Ohio?
    • No, in Oho any property that is distributed pursuant to a will must go through the probate court.
  • How do I avoid probate?
    • Generally, property that is distributed through a trust or a transfer on death (TOD) designation is transferred outside of probate.
  • What is probate?
    • Probate is the process of court oversight and distribution of property after your death. For more information on probate please click here.
  • Can my family try to contest my will?
    • A family member can always try to contest a will but we can put provisions in the will that disinherit any person who tries to challenge your will and loses.
  • Can I disinherit my kids or other family members?
    • Aside from a spouse, you can disinherit any family members.
  • What happens if my power of attorney steals from me?
    • Any person named as a power of attorney is what is referred to as your fiduciary. A fiduciary has a legal obligation to act in your best interest. Therefore, a person who abuses a power of attorney can be liable for breach of their fiduciary duties along with other civil actions like theft.
  • What happens if I die without a will?
    • If you die without a will there are Ohio laws that determine who will receive your property through probate.
  • What happens if I am unconscious or disabled and do not have a health care power of attorney or durable general power of attorney?
    • The court will appoint someone to act as your guardian. This may be an attorney that you have never met, and you will be responsible for paying the guardian. For more information on Guardianships CLICK HERE LINK NEEDED.
  • What happens to my power of attorney designations when I die?
    • All power of attorneys automatically terminates upon your death.
  • Do I need a trust?
    • There is no one size fits all answer to this question. When you meet with one of our attorneys we can analyze your specific family situation and advise whether a trust makes sense for you. In general trusts are most useful when you have minor children or a disabled child or when you have a total net worth of over one million dollars.
  • Are there tax benefits to a trust?
    • There can be major tax benefits to having a trust. Our attorneys will be able to advise whether you would benefit from a trust.
  • Can a trust help to preserve my IRA or other retirements account for my kids?
    • Yes, there is a special type of trust called a stretch trust which holds your retirement accounts and helps to preserve the tax benefits of the trust for your kids.
  • Is a power of attorney the same thing as a guardian?
    • A guardian and power of attorney can share similar duties but the purpose of a power attorney is to avoid the need for a guardian.
  • What is the process to get an estate plan through your office?
    • The first step is to schedule a free consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys. This consultation can be in person or over the telephone. During the consultation we will discuss your needs and make a recommendation regarding your estate plan.
  • Do I have to drive to Columbus?
    • Our office is located in Columbus, Ohio but we serve all 88 Ohio counties. If you do not wish to ever drive to our office we can complete the entire process electronically.
  • Do you offer a free consultation estate planning consultation?
    • Yes, we offer a free estate planning consultation
  • Do you offer flat rates?
    • Yes in most situations. The vast majority of our estate plans are completed for a flat rate.
  • Is there a way to ensure my pets are cared for after my death?
    • Yes, we offer a special pet trust which designates a person to take care of your pets.