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Whether you need to create an estate plan from scratch or make additions or modifications to an existing will or trust, the single most important thing you should consider is how comfortable you feel with the lawyer handling these very important matters. You deserve counsel with a depth of experience in the area of estate planning; you also deserve counsel who places a special priority on customer service and client satisfaction.
At Mockensturm, Ltd excelling in customer service is as important as providing effective legal advice. Our attorneys have significant experience in the areas of estate planning, probate administration and estate litigation. This experience hasn’t steered us away from what matters most, however: Making our clients comfortable and taking the time to listen to their concerns so we can respond accordingly.
While our attorneys and staff are skilled with the fine details of any case, we also never forget the basic things – like returning phone calls promptly, responding to emails thoroughly and creating an environment designed to reduce the stress many associate with getting legal help. We also take the extra step to keep in touch with you after your estate plan is implemented to ensure that you continue follow all required legal formalities to keep your plan effective and up to date. Our job doesn’t end with the preparation of documents, we do our best to help keep your plan on track for as long as you need it.
At our firm, we prioritize proactive counsel that minimizes the likelihood of disputes – the last thing anyone cares to deal with when it comes to end-of-life issues. Our guardianship and probate, estate and trust administration practices are grounded in providing maximum results with minimal stress. We also have a highly trained staff with over 100 years of combined experience in all areas of taxation, including estate and trust tax compliance and estate audits.
At the same time, we know that disagreement is sometimes inevitable when it comes to a loved one’s estate or the IRS or local tax authority. As a full-service Ohio estates firm, our attorneys also provide strategic probate, estate and trust litigation services to represent the best interests of our clients when an estate is the subject of conflict.
Our local team of attorneys and CPA’s have extensive experience dealing with numerous estate related issues. Because we understand the economics along with the legal and tax implications of a person’s estate we offer a holistic approach to this very important area of personal legal planning.
“What Needs to be Done to Dispose of Assets After a Person Dies?”
The death of a loved one is never an easy time. To those left behind, this can be a sad and confusing time, especially when it comes to dealing with a loved one’s estate. This court supervised process called “Probate” requires the preparation and filing of complex legal documents designed to fully account for a loved one’s assets and ensure they are distributed according to their wishes. An estate can be opened whether or not an individual has a Last Will and Testament. If someone dies without a Last Will and Testament, their assets pass to the individuals listed in the State Intestacy Statute. If a person dies with a Last Will and Testament, then their assets pass through Probate pursuant to the terms of that Last Will and Testament. Many people believe that if they have a Last Will and Testament that Probate will not be necessary, but in actuality it is the Will that tells the Probate Court how to handle the estate. The process to completely probate an estate can be long and confusing, but our Probate professionals work hard to ensure that the Probate process is as simple and efficient as possible. The lawyers and paralegals on the Mockensturm Ltd. Probate and Estate team will guide you through the complicated legal process required to distribute assets.
“What Types of Estate Planning Documents are Right for Me?”
Planning ahead for the inevitable can be easier than you think. Most people will want to avoid the cost and complexity of the Probate process. In many cases this can be done through the use of trusts. Sometimes however, your assets can be re-titled in ways that eliminate both the need for probate and traditional estate planning documents like trusts. If your estate consists primarily of a home and retirement accounts you may be able to use “transfer on death” provisions to automatically transfer your assets upon your death. The Mockensturm Ltd. Estate planning team will review your assets with you to see if a designated beneficiary based planning method will allow your estate planning goals to be achieved.
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that directs how you want your assets to be distributed upon your death and names a guardian for any minor children you may have. A Will is therefore absolutely essential if you have minor children. A properly executed Will is the only way to ensure that the people you choose to take care of your minor children can assume full custodial rights without involving a court. Your Will instructs the Probate Court as to how your affairs should be administered. Whether transferring your assets, paying your debts, or appointing a guardian, it is better to control those decisions rather than leave them in the discretion of the Court. The Mockensturm Ltd. Team will work with you to carefully plan your last Will and Testament so that your wishes are honored. On the other hand, if your goal is to avoid probate, you may wish to visit our content discussing Estate Planning with Trusts.
Trust planning is the most common form of Estate planning in order to avoid your assets passing through the Probate Court. In most cases, you will want to consider using a Trust if your estate includes business assets or partnership interests or if you want to control the management of your assets after your death to ensure the ongoing welfare of your survivors. Trusts are also a great tool to avoid the probate process. Many people do not realize that simply having a Will is not sufficient to avoid probate. In order to avoid probate, assets must either be titled so they automatically transfer to your heirs upon your death or they must be held in trust with a valid trustee. The Trustee will hold or distribute your assets according to your wishes.
There are many types of trusts to consider. The most common is a Living Trust which allows you to maintain full control over your assets during your lifetime but allow your assets to transfer to your loved ones after your death without the need for probate. Mockensturm Ltd. attorneys and paralegals have years of experience helping people decide the best possible strategies to create trusts that avoid probate, minimize taxes and manage assets for your heirs in the most efficient, cost effective manner possible.
While living or revocable trusts offer great flexibility in estate planning, they do not offer creditor protection. Irrevocable trusts and Ohio legacy trusts are two options that do allow for creditor protection. In these types of trusts, you cannot serve as the Trustee of your Trust. Ultimately, another person will have control over your assets and when they are distributed. In exchange for this loss of control, your assets can be shielded from future creditors. For those in risky occupations, creditor protection trusts may be an effective planning tool for the portion of your assets that you cannot afford to lose. If you are concerned with protecting your assets from creditors now or in the future, the attorneys and paralegals of Mockensturm Ltd. can assist you in creating the most advantageous creditor protection trusts.
As we and our family members age, there may be times when others need to manage our affairs, including medical decisions. Maybe a loved one will become incapacitated by illness or a serious surgery. Perhaps you become permanently unable to handle your own affairs because of Alzheimer’s disease or some other chronic condition. During times like these you need to be able to legally hand over responsibility for your financial or medical affairs through the use of a Power of Attorney. Without a well-drafted and properly executed Power of Attorney naming one or more people who can take over for you, someone will need to make a formal application with a Probate Court to request authority to handle your affairs. Ultimately, the decision of who to appoint will be at the Probate Court’s discretion. The Mockensturm Ltd. Team will help you avoid this necessity with carefully crafted Powers of Attorney. Don’t wait for an unforeseen event to make you or your loved once wish you had done better planning to handle unforeseen medical situations.
Hopefully you or your family will never have to make a life ending decision. The decision to withdraw life sustaining treatment when there is no chance of recovery is the most difficult decision any loved one would face. A living will allows you to make your wishes known so that your family or other decision makers know how you wish them to proceed. By creating a Living Will, you make your wishes clearly known in documents that will be honored by health care providers and other authorities. Failure to have a properly executed Living Will can create terrible rifts among families and friends at the worst possible time. Contact Mockensturm Ltd. to learn how a proper Living Will can help provide the guidance your survivors need to honor you wishes at the end of your life.
Are you ready to take the first step toward reaching your goals?
Contact us today to schedule a Initial Consultation with our Toledo, Ohio, attorneys.