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Cleveland Law Blog

Funding trusts

Ohio residents who want to create an effective estate plan should know that the inclusion of a trust is necessary. Trusts can be funded or used to hold various types of assets and can ensure that the assets will be handled in the manner specified by the grantor.

Individuals can place their real estate in trusts to control how the assets are managed. They can have an attorney draft a deed or deed in trust so that the title to the real estate will be transferred into a trust. When the transfer is recorded, the trust is funded by the real estate.

Divorce and allocating retirement plans

The allocation of retirement assets can be a significant source of contention during a divorce. Ohio residents also have to be mindful of the manner in which they go about dividing such assets when they have finally reached divorce settlement terms. The various types of workplace retirement assets are governed by different rules, and dividing them in the wrong way can result in hefty taxes and fines.

In order for an ex-spouse to obtain the portion of their spouse's workplace retirement plan to which they are entitled, it will be necessary to complete a qualified domestic relations order. A QDRO will be necessary whether the plan is a conventional pension plan or a 401(k) plan.

How to get more child support after a change in circumstances

Parents are responsible for supporting their children until they are emancipated, typically at 18 years of age or when they graduate from high school. Depending on when the parents separate, the noncustodial parent may have to pay child support for up to 18 years. Over that length of time, the parents' income and the child's expenses are likely to change. When that happens, parents in Ohio may apply for a modification to the child support order. Either the custodial or noncustodial parent can request a review of the court order.

In order for the court to modify a child support order, there has to be a substantial change in circumstances. If the noncustodial parent received a promotion, completed an advanced degree and started working in a new career field or started to earn a profit in their own business, the custodial parent may be eligible for more child support. The increase isn't automatic though. A parent has to petition the court to do a review of both parents' finances to determine an appropriate amount of support for the minor children.

Female breadwinners planning for the end of a marriage

Female breadwinners in Ohio may find it financially stressful to divorce their spouses. Since traditional roles have reversed with more men staying at home to care for the children and tend to the needs of the household, some women are now being required to pay alimony following a divorce. This major change in law stems from a 1979 landmark decision making alimony a gender-neutral responsibility based on the financial dynamic of the household.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey, approximately 45 percent of attorneys reported a significant increase in being responsible for alimony. In the same survey, 54 percent of lawyers saw an increase in mothers who were found to be responsible for paying child support. Decades ago, it was the norm for the man to have the higher income, which made him the primary breadwinner responsible for alimony when a divorce concluded.

Being the executor of an estate

One of the most important choices Ohio residents will have to make about an estate plan is who will serve as executor. The executor will be responsible for handling all of the estate owner's affairs after death. If an estate owner dies without a will specifying an executor, an administrator will be designated by the probate court.

The executor or administrator will have multiple duties, such as sending notices to creditors and beneficiaries, inventorying the decedent's assets, paying the estate liabilities and distributing the assets to the appropriate beneficiaries.

Trusts and trustees

Ohio residents can use a trust as part of their estate plan to have their financial assets managed according to their wishes. However, choosing the right trustee is an important part of setting up a trust and can result in the mismanagement of trust assets if the wrong choice is made.

Grantors may find it convenient and preferable to select a person with whom the family is familiar and who would process requests for the distributions of trust assets while being mindful of the reasons why the grantor created the trust. While this may be ideal, the trustee should also be able to properly carry out all of the legal, administrative and fiduciary duties that comes with the role.

Estate planning can help avoid later complications

Estate and probate issues can be complex for Ohio families, especially when dishonesty or greed is involved in dealing with a loved one's estate. However, these kinds of problems can be minimized when people have developed wills, trusts and other documents to help ensure that their heirs receive their assets in a way that reflects their interests. The presence of a will can help potential heirs understand their rights and prevent unjust or unfair outcomes after a person has passed away. This can be especially important in the case of blended families, where spouses and children from multiple marriages may have more distant and less trusting relations.

Probate matters are generally handled under state law. When a person dies without a will providing for his or her estate, he or she is considered to have passed away intestate. In this case, state law governs the distribution of an individual's assets and mandates that a certain portion to go to a spouse, children and other family members. This distribution takes place after debts and taxes are handled in the probate court.

Three benefits of estate planning

Estate planning is essentially preparing for asset distribution following your death. Although thinking about end-of-life administrative issues is not necessarily a pleasant task, it is certainly one of the most important you can accomplish to give yourself and your loved ones peace of mind.

People who do not adequately plan the distribution of their assets may cause conflict and hardship among family members who may have differing ideas and opinions about how to divide assets. With a comprehensive estate plan in place, you can minimize or even eliminate these conflicts entirely. Here are three benefits of estate planning and why it makes sense to plan ahead.

What to expect during probate

If an estate holder creates a will, it will be authenticated and its instructions followed during probate. Probate is also used to determine how much an estate is worth and pay any taxes or other debts that an estate owes. For Ohio residents, state law will specifically determine how the probate process is conducted.

A personal representative will be appointed by a judge during such proceedings. Typically, this person is actually designated in the will. Absent such an appointment, a child or other relative may assume this role. When inventorying assets, the personal representative will determine the estate's value based on the date of death. An outside appraisal can be performed to get an accurate value. Although creditors and others are free to make claims against an estate, the executor may deny them if there isn't evidence to support their validity.

Parenting plans create a co-parenting framework

For some divorced parents in Ohio, the most contentious and difficult part of ending a marriage is dealing with how to apportion custody and parenting time with the children. Both parents are often deeply committed to their children and don't wish to lose time with them. A parenting agreement can help to set guidelines and boundaries for a divorcing couple, ultimately creating a stronger working relationship for the future.

In many cases, parents can work together amicably enough to create a positive parenting plan. Their attorneys may collaborate in the process to ensure that the result reflects the principles of state law as well as an effective roadmap. For other parents with a more difficult relationship, courts and judges may need to get involved. The lawyers representing the parents could eventually reach important compromises on key issues as part of the divorce negotiations.

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