Atkins and Atkins Attorneys at Law, LLC

How to get around the need for probate

Those who live or own property in Ohio may be required to go through the probate process. This is when an executor presents a will to a probate judge to be validated. Once a will is validated, assets can be distributed according to its provisions, and the executor may take other steps such as paying income or estate taxes. If an individual dies without a will, a probate judge will appoint an executor on that individual's behalf.

While probate isn't always complex or expensive, there may be good reason to avoid it if possible. For example, it could take many years for a will to be confirmed and an estate to be settled. In addition, the proceedings are made available to the public, which means that anyone can see the details of an estate or how it was settled. There are several steps that a person can take to avoid or minimize the need for probate.

People can learn from Aretha Franklin's estate mistakes

While many people in Ohio may love Aretha Franklin's music, they may want to take a different path when it comes to their estate planning decisions. After the Queen of Soul passed away in August 2018, it was generally believed that she never executed a will. As a result, her estate has remained in the probate courts since that time, with relatives struggling over how her significant assets will be distributed, including valuable song royalties with ongoing income. More recently, three different handwritten wills were located in different locations and proffered to the court; it is not clear if any of them have legal standing.

Because Franklin died without a will and left behind a large estate, a substantial amount of money has been spent on legal and court fees. In addition, family differences and disputes have been exacerbated by the amount of money at stake from her estate. Many people may want to avoid this outcome for their own loved ones after they pass away. In order to do so, the first step in making an estate plan is often executing a formal will. People may opt to work with an estate planning lawyer to develop a will that reflects their goals for the future and makes clear the distribution of their estate.

How to divide a business in a divorce

When Ohio couples who are also business owners get a divorce, deciding what to do about the company can be difficult. The couple can continue to run the business together, they can sell it or one can buy the other one out.

For the first option, the couple will usually need to have a relatively amicable relationship. If they do not and they still want to keep the business, they might be able to restructure it so they do not have direct contact with one another. They should also decide what role each of them will play in the company. If the couple decides to sell the business, they might want to wait until they can get what they agree is an acceptable profit. They should agree about the minimum offer they will accept and what the terms are. In some cases, they may not be able to wait for the most profitable offer and may need to sell for less than is ideal for financial reasons.

How is spousal support determined in Ohio?

Everyone goes into marriage with the intention to stay together forever. Marriage is a beautiful thing, but if the situation becomes untenable, sometimes splitting is the best call. Yes, divorce is full of emotional decisions, but there are also financial considerations to account for as well.

Marriage is a partnership. And just like a business partnership, when dissolved, the goal is for both partners to come out equitably for the work they put in.

The effects of income on divorce

Money can be an issue for many couples in Ohio. In some cases, it's because husbands are insecure about their wives earning more money than them. Studies show that women who make more than their husbands are more likely to get divorced.

While women's income relative to that of men has increased in the last few decades, societal attitudes do not appear to have changed as rapidly. In 1981, just 13% of women who lived with a partner earned half or more of the income. A 2017 Pew Research Center study found that this was true for almost one-third of cohabiting couples. However, the study also found that only one-quarter of Americans believed that it was extremely important for mothers to provide income for their kids. About 40% of respondents believed this of fathers.

The advantages of a trust over a will in an estate plan

A trust instead of a will could be the right choice for some people in Ohio who are creating an estate plan. A trust can offer more privacy and can distribute assets to beneficiaries more quickly because it does not have to pass through probate as a will does. However, a trust can also hold assets if there are reasons a beneficiary should not immediately receive them.

For example, if a beneficiary has special needs and receives government benefits as a result, getting an inheritance could mean an end to that assistance. A trust can be set up to provide for a loved one with special needs, but since the assets remain in the trust's name, the government benefits are still available. Another situation could be one in which a beneficiary is a young adult and likely to be irresponsible with money. A trust might stipulate that the beneficiary should be 35 or some other age before receiving distributions. A trustee could also be put in charge of periodically making distributions. Some types of trusts do not permit creditors to seize assets. A trust could also be set up to provide in-home or nursing home care.

Tips for creating an effective estate plan

According to a study, only 42 percent of Americans have created any sort of estate plan. For Ohio residents who don't have an estate plan, it is best to start one by creating a will. A will can dictate who receives certain assets or who is allowed to be a guardian of a minor child.

It is worth noting that a beneficiary designation trumps language put in a will. Therefore, it is important to review beneficiary designations on a 401(k) or other assets. Those who are concerned about going through probate may be able to avoid it by putting assets into a trust. Trusts are managed by a trustee, and he or she will make decisions based on rules that are made when it is created.

Selling, keeping or splitting a business in a divorce

Owning a business can mean that a couple in Ohio has an additional complication when it comes to dividing property in a divorce. The first step they will need to take is having the company valuated. Once they know what the company is worth, they might want to sell it, but one person might also buy out the other, or they might continue to run it.

Selling may present some difficulties because it could take some time, and this might slow down the divorce process. While waiting for the business to sell, the couple will also have to decide how they will continue to run it and whether one of them will step aside.

Divorce, taxes and claiming dependents

When completing their tax returns, Ohio residents can claim qualifying dependents and encounter almost no issues. However, in situations in which multiple taxpayers are claiming the same dependents, such as when separated or divorce parents both claim their children, the process can quickly become complicated, forcing the Internal Revenue Service to examine the returns and decide which claim to allow.

Being able to claim dependents can be beneficial: Parents may be able to claim the Head of Household filing status. They may also claim related tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit.

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Atkins and Atkins Attorneys at Law, LLC

490 City Park Ave.
Columbus, OH 43215-5780

Phone: 614-398-3277
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Fax: 614-591-4667
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