Cleveland Estate Lawyers
Experienced Probate Attorneys in Cleveland
Estate planning and probate are complex legal processes that many people find either confusing or uncomfortable. However, having an estate plan is vital if you want to preserve your legacy, and understanding probate can help you prepare a robust estate plan that meets your needs.
At Laubacher & Co., we can help you navigate estate planning and probate with confidence. We'll work with you to safeguard your legacy and protect the rights and assets that matter most.
What Is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the practice of drafting and signing different contracts and documents to determine how your assets and liabilities are distributed should you pass away or become incapacitated.
Four documents are included in almost every estate plan. They are a living will, a health care power of attorney, a durable (or financial) power of attorney, and a last will and testament. A trust can also be a key piece of many estate plans.
- A living will – A living will establishes your end of life decisions, including ongoing treatment and life support, saving your family from needing to make difficult decisions
- A power of attorney – A Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney (POA) appoints an individual to care for your health and finances if you become medically incapacitated.
- A last will and testament – A last will and testament determines how you will distribute assets to beneficiaries and repay any existing liabilities (like debts) once you pass away. It is also where you name a guardian for your minor children.
- A trust –Like a last will and testament, a trust enables you to distribute assets to beneficiaries. While a trust is not capable of all the same things a will is (you can’t use it to name a guardian for your children, for example), you can use a trust to bypass probate, manage funds for young beneficiaries, hold funds for a special needs family member, or even provide for a beloved pet, all of which make a trust an integral part of many estate plans.
Each of these documents must meet different requirements (such as the presence of witnesses during signing) for the estate plan to be legally binding.
How Does Probate Work in Ohio?
Probate occurs after an individual (called a "decedent") passes away. During probate, a probate court works with an individual appointed in a decedent's will (called the "executor" or "personal representative") to distribute the decedent's estate. If the decedent failed to specify an executor in their will, the court will appoint one (often an heir).
The probate court and executor work together to ensure the decedent's estate is properly distributed. That means doing things like:
- Notifying individuals named in the decedent's will of their death and the impending probate;
- Presenting the court with a comprehensive inventory of the decedent's estate and assets and the value of those items;
- Addressing any concerns other individuals have about the validity of the will or the probate process;
- Repaying any creditors the decedent owed money to before passing;
- Distributing the decedent's assets and estate among beneficiaries according to the will once all prior steps have been completed.
The probate process can be long and expensive. It can also be incredibly confusing, especially for individuals who were not expecting to deal with it and suddenly find themselves involved in a complex estate planning process.
For these reasons, hiring a Cleveland estate planning attorney can actually help you save valuable time and money during probate. At Laubacher & Co., we understand Ohio probate and estate planning procedures inside and out. We'll shoulder the burden of your case, so you can focus on maintaining your well-being throughout the process.
Cleveland Probate & Estate Planning Attorneys
A lawyer can be invaluable in protecting your loved one's last wishes for their estate. At Laubacher & Co., we offer a range of services such as:
- Upholding terms of the will,
- Resolving probate without a will,
- Guiding the executor,
- Ensuring deadlines are met,
- Assisting with the division of assets, and
- Resolving disputes such as will contests.
Our attorneys are adept at resolving difficult cases. No matter how complex your loved one's estate is or what disputes might arise during probate, we are equipped to handle it. Many estates are settled and distributed smoothly, but we always prepare ahead of time for litigation if necessary.
While you are grieving, you deserve someone at your side who can handle stressful legal details for you. We are a firm that makes clients feel supported and worry-free about the issues they are facing.