Gayle Reeves' Blog

Is Your Estate Plan Up-To-Date?

Gayle A. Reeves - Thursday, January 21, 2010

Many people get their estate planning done, put it in a file or safe deposit box and forget about it. As with anything else in your life, your estate plan should be reviewed at least every couple of years or when a major change in your life occurs. Here is a simple test to see if your estate plan is up to date.

  1. Have you prepared a Will or a Trust? Without proactive planning you are relying on the Ohio legislature to determine how your assets pass, to whom they pass, and when they pass
  2. If you have done a Will or Trust, has it been reviewed in the last two years? An out-of-date plan is perhaps worse than no estate plan at all. Keeping your plan current is vital to achieving the goals you set out to accomplish.
  3. Are all of your heirs over the age of 18 and financially responsible? In Ohio children inherit property, without restriction, at age 18. Proper planning is crucial to prevent an heir from squandering his or her inheritance.
  4. Are you absolutely certain that your assets will not be subject to probate? I encourage you to make a list of each asset you own and identify how each asset is going to avoid probate. Probate can be costly and typically require 6 to 12 months from the date of death to conclude.
  5. Do you have assets titled jointly with a child or children, or someone else? Holding assets jointly with someone other than a spouse is quite common, but has some potentially devastating consequences. A creditor of a joint tenant can take all or a part of the asset to satisfy the creditor’s claim.
  6. Does your current plan provide your heirs with asset protection, divorce protection, and lawsuit protection? The most common means of providing for heirs is with outright distributions. By doing so, however, the inheritance becomes subject to the creditors or divorcing spouse of your heirs.
  7. Is this your first marriage? Second or subsequent marriages present unique planning issues, particularly if both spouses have children from a prior marriage. Proper planning is critical to prevent undesired results.

If you answered "No" to any of the above questions or "Yes" to question 5, you should make an appointment to speak to an attorney about your estate plan. Gayle A. Reeves Co., L.P.A., Attorney at Law, Vineyard Square Plaza, 1607 State Route 60, Suite 10, Vermilion, OH 44089, call (440) 967-6565. Member of NAELA.