If you don’t have a will or trust, or do not properly title your assets, then you lose the chance to help after you’re gone. The consequences could be worse than you think.
If there’s no will, then Ohio gives everything to your spouse and children, or if you are not married, then your other relatives get your assets. If this is not your wish, then anyone else you want to help may not get it. The government will not minimize the taxes. Just the opposite: they want to collect the maximum tax possible. If your children have no parent, then they’ll probably go to the first relative who asks. If this works well in your case, then your family gets lucky. If it doesn’t, then they lose the benefit of your guidance. A will or trust lets you control these matters.
Joint and Survivor accounts go straight to the survivor. If a couple owns a house this way, then the survivor takes the house, even if they broke up long ago, and even if they are in the middle of a divorce. The decedent’s children, parents, brothers and sisters, and everyone else receive nothing.
Many people put another person on a bank account to help them manage their money. More often than not, the well-intentioned banker uses a joint and survivor signature card. What is the result? The survivor gets all the money. It does not matter if the decedent had other children or friends. It also doesn’t matter if the decedent had a will that provides otherwise.
Life insurance, retirement accounts, annuities, and some other assets pass directly to the named beneficiaries. Just like joint and survivor property, the money goes straight to the beneficiary. Except for some taxes, no one can force the beneficiary to pay the decedent’s debts.
If there’s no will or trust, then all of the decedent’s assets go straight to heirs 18 or older. It does not matter how irresponsible they are, how much they drink or do drugs, or how well they can invest.
For persons with a high net worth, federal and Ohio estate taxes could take up to 50% or more of their assets. Although a will, by itself, cannot tackle this burden, it can be part of an overall approach to reduce, if not eliminate, this obligation.
When you die something happens to your children and every asset you own. If you do not know what would happen when you pass away, then you need to plan now. We think through all of these issues and plan for you.
There’s no charge for the first few minutes on the phone. I’m available at (937) 667-8805 from 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday. There’s no reason to delay.