Law Articles

Considerations for a New Year

As we make our resolutions and set our sights for a prosperous New Year, it is a perfect time to review legal documents and finances.   Here are some questions to ponder:
Real Property: Do you own your house jointly with another person?  Does your deed contain  survivorship language?  Have you designated a transfer-on-death beneficiary?  The title of property determines whether the property will have to pass through probate court. Do you qualify for any real estate tax reductions programs?  Have you reviewed the tax value established by the county auditor?  If you believe the tax value is too high, have you filed a complaint against valuation? 
Bank Accounts:  Have you designated beneficiaries on your accounts?  Have you examined the interest rate you are earning on savings accounts or certificates of deposits?  Interest rates may have risen in the last year.  Do your deposits in one bank exceed the FDIC insurance limits?  The standard deposit insurance coverage limit is $250,000 per depositor, per FDIC-insured bank, per ownership category.  Can someone access your safety deposit box in the event of emergency?  Do you have an organized list of your accounts at home in the event your family needs to locate the banks?
Last Will and Testament:  How long ago did you execute your will?  Does it comply with Ohio law? oAre  Are the named beneficiaries still living?  Do you still want the named beneficiaries to receive a bequest from your estate?  Are any beneficiaries under 18 year old? Are the named executors still available and willing to administer your estate?  Should you add alternate executors?  Is your original will located in a safe place where family can find it?  Have you deposited a prior will with the probate court? If so, you should make sure that your current will is deposited.  Have you designated a guardian to take care of minor children?
Financial and Health Care Powers of Attorney:  Are your listed agents still able and willing to act on your behalf?  Do you need to consider different or alternate agents?  Does your agent have possession of the original documents?  Is there a need to expand or restrict the powers your agent can exercise?  Does the document cover all of your property and accounts?  Have you nominated a guardian to oversee your health and/or finances in the event a guardianship is necessary?  Have you considered the extraordinary powers which are available to agents under Ohio law?  Was the document properly executed? Financial powers of attorney must be notarized in order to transfer real property.   
Living Will: Did you sign the document before a notary or two disinterested witnesses?  Is the form readily recognizable by medical facilities? Does it comply with Ohio law?  Are the phone numbers and addresses current?  Do your family members have a copy of the document or at least know where to obtain it?  Did you complete an organ donation form?
Trust documents: Is there a need to update the beneficiaries?  Are the named trustees still able to serve the trust?  Have you acquired property that has not been transferred to the trust?  Have you included a spendthrift provision for beneficiaries who have creditor problems?
Insurance Policies:  Have you reviewed the insurance policy on your home to make sure the replacement limits are high enough?  Building materials have increased in the last year.  Does it make sense to raise your deductible so your premiums are lower?  What are the coverage limits on your vehicle policy?  Most people don’t know.  Do you have sufficient coverage in the event that you are hit by an uninsured driver?  Have you considered purchasing an umbrella policy?  Is your umbrella policy tied to your uninsured policy for the greatest possible protection?  Many drivers on the road today carry minimum insurance coverage which is woefully inadequate in the event of serious injury.
Investments and retirement accounts:  Are your beneficiaries up to date?  Have you discussed the amount of the minimum required distribution for this year?  Have you been contributing the most possible to your retirement account?  Have you set aside contributions for your IRA?
Obviously, this list is just a start.  Each of the questions above will likely lead to other areas which may need your attention.   Laribee & Hertrick, LLP can make sure that you begin the New Year  with current and organized leagal documents.

This article is intended to provide general information about the law. It is not intended to give legal advice.  Readers are urged to seek advice from an attorney regarding their specific issues and rights.

©2020 - Laribee & Hertrick, LLP - Custom Web Design Services by INSYTE eCommerce