Wills Attorney in Lima, OH
Even if you consider yourself to be a fairly organized and responsible person, it’s still possible you haven’t taken the basic steps of estate planning. Specifically, not even half of adults in the United States say they’ve begun drafting a will that lays out their wishes for when they pass away. No matter where you’re at in life, you can benefit from sitting down with an estate planning attorney and talking through your options for writing a will to ensure your loved ones are taken care of and your wishes are clear.
For help with this and to learn more about the benefits of having a will, reach out to our team at Siferd & Associates, LPA to schedule a consultation. We’re headquartered in Lima, Ohio, but also serve clients throughout Allen County, Hardin County, Auglaize County, Putnam County, Hancock County, and Mercer County.
Overview of Wills
A will is the most common document people use when they begin estate planning, and even if you end up needing a more extensive or complex plan, a will is a good place to start. Simply put, a will is a legally-binding document that you (the testator) write out that stipulates what you want to be done with your assets after you pass away. Specifically, it allows you to list particular assets and assign them to be given to certain beneficiaries.
Commonly inherited assets included in wills vary but can include both material and non-material property. For example, you can leave physical assets such as real estate, vehicles, jewelry, artwork, furniture, or family heirlooms; or, you can leave assets like money, stocks and bonds, pensions, or funds from retirement accounts or insurance policies. You will also be able to name an executor of your will who’ll be responsible for administering it after your death and taking it through the probate process. Lastly, a will allows you to name a legal guardian for any minor children or pets.
There are a few different types of wills you’ll hear about, but the most common is called a “simple” will where there is only one testator. Some married couples may choose to write out a joint will, but these are becoming less common with most attorneys advising that each spouse draft their own. You may also hear about something called a holographic will, which is simply a will that’s been handwritten instead of composed digitally. Handwritten wills are still accepted in Ohio, but there can be potential issues with them if they’re contested in court. Finally, you may benefit from a pour-over will, which is used in conjunction with a living trust and can address any assets that were left out of the trust.
Why Having a Will Is Important
So now that you know what a will is, you may be wondering, who needs a will? The real answer is—everyone. This is true regardless of your age or the amount of wealth you have. Most people have more assets than they realize, and when you pass away, the job of going through all your belongings and addressing all your legal and financial concerns will fall to your loved ones. You can help ease their burden by taking the time now to write out a will.
If you die without a will (called dying “intestate”), the courts will be the ones with the final say. They will first assign an administrator to your estate (typically a surviving spouse or close family member) who will then have to locate, inventory, and distribute your assets and belongings. They will also be responsible for addressing any past-due taxes or debts on your behalf. This process is known as probate, and it will not only cost your loved ones their time (it typically takes several months for an estate to move through probate), but it will also cost them money in the form of attorney fees, court fees, and appraisals if necessary. By having a will in place, you’ll ensure that you have a say in what happens to your assets and you’ll get to decide who will administer your estate.
Difference Between a Will and a Trust
If you’re serious about estate planning, you may also be considering a trust which is similar to a will but differs in several ways. With a trust, you’ll move your assets out of your name and into the name of your trustee while you’re still living. This means the assets won’t technically belong to you anymore (though you’ll retain full control over them during your lifetime), and when you do pass, they can be transferred immediately to your beneficiary without going through probate. Trusts also have the advantage of staying private, unlike wills where the contents are available to the public.
Wills Attorney Serving Lima, Ohio
If you’re in the Lima, Ohio, area and would like to know more about writing a will, contact our team at Siferd & Associates, LPA to get reliable legal assistance.