» Inheritance

How Do I Locate Assets of a Late Family Member?

You've been appointed executor of the estate of a loved one. Taking your responsibilities seriously, you undertake to locate and identify all of the deceased's assets for an inventory. It is not always easy to locate assets of a late family member. Especially if the deceased was a parent, you may have a pretty good idea of where to start; after all, you took dad to the bank every other week, so you know where his account was. But beyond checking and savings accounts, do you really know what assets he had? And how do you begin to find out?

Locating a loved one's assets is often challenging because we rarely have direct conversations with each other about exactly what we own and where it is. As an adult child, asking an aging parent about these matters can feel (to your parent or to you) as if you're just waiting for them to die so you can collect their wealth. While of course this is not the case, the discomfort of broaching the topic prevents most people from doing so. Then, one day, it's too late.

Here's a helpful guide on how to locate assets of a late family member so they can go through the Read More

What is a Crummey Trust?

Providing financially for children and grandchildren is one of the most satisfying ways to use the assets you've spent a lifetime accumulating. Of course, you have made an estate plan to dispose of your assets after you're gone, but you want to be able to have the joy of giving while you're still alive. Not only does giving during your lifetime allow you to experience the gratitude of your beneficiaries, but making lifetime gifts can be an excellent way to reduce your taxable estate.

As of 2017, you can make a gift of up to $14,000 as an individual (or $28,000 for a married couple) to a child or grandchild each year without incurring gift tax liability on that amount. This gift can be used for their education, travel, even a down-payment on a house when the time comes. But how you give the gift has a significant impact on the benefit you and the beneficiary will get out of it.

Limitations of Custodial Accounts and Regular Trusts

You don't want to give a large financial gift directly to a minor chil… Read More

What Are a Spouse's Inheritance Rights in Ohio?

When people ask us about a spouse's inheritance rights in Ohio, they usually mean one of two things: either what will happen if their spouse dies without a will, or what will happen if their spouse tries to disinherit them. Let's discuss those separate issues one at a time.

What Happens if My Spouse Dies Without a Will in Ohio?

The legal term for dying without a valid will in place is "dying intestate." If your spouse dies intestate, Ohio law determines what share of their probate property you will inherit. Notice the phrase "probate property." Probate property is any property that would be distributed through the probate process, whether or not the deceased had a will. Some property, like that held in a trust, funds in a retirement account, proceeds of a life insurance policy, or assets held in joint tenancy or as "transfer on death" pass outside of probate to a designated beneficiary or survivor.

Ohio intestacy law attempts to distribute probate pr… Read More

Can a Foster Child Inherit From Foster Parents in Ohio?

Many foster parents love their foster children like their own biological children. Especially for foster children who remain in a home for years, the distinction may fade away in every practical sense. They are, for all intents and purposes, a member of the family.

The foster system can be complicated; its goal is to reunite biological families whenever possible, so the rights of biological parents to their children may not be terminated for years, if ever. In the meantime, foster parents who have grown attached to their foster children may harbor a hope and an intention to adopt them someday.

What are the inheritance rights of a foster child when their foster parent dies? Do those rights change if the foster parents intended to adopt the foster child but never did?

Inheritance Rights of Foster Children in Ohio

As a general rule, foster children in Ohio are not eligible to inherit from their foster parents under Ohio laws of intestate succession, which dictate how a deceased person's property will be distributed in the absence of a valid will. Children who have been legally adopted have th… Read More

When an Heir Causes a Death, Can They Inherit From the Deceased?

Admittedly, whether you can inherit from someone you killed is not a question that estate planning attorneys are often asked (and they would probably be highly suspicious of the questioner if they were!). It's certainly not an issue that arises frequently. However, there are people out there who, for whatever reason, intentionally cause the death of a family member. If it seems unfair to you that they should then inherit some of the assets of the person they killed, the Ohio legislature agrees with you.

Ohio Revised Code section 2105.19 prohibits someone who has committed voluntary manslaughter, murder, or aggravated murder from benefiting from the death. This is true whether the person is convicted of the crime, pleads guilty, or is found not guilty by reason of insanity. It also applies to juveniles who would have been guilty of one of those crimes had they been able to be tried as an adult.

What Happens to the Forfeited Inheritance

Not only is a person who intentionally killed someone prevented from inheriting from them, they are also barred from receiving life insurance and other benefits… Read More

If Your Spouse Abandoned You, Can They Still Inherit From You?

It goes without saying that being abandoned by a spouse is a devastating event. If your spouse abandoned you, your feelings toward him or her may be very complicated. You may have imagined confrontations with your spouse, but one thing you may not have considered is what would happen if you died before the spouse who abandoned you. If your spouse abandoned you, can they still inherit from your estate?

How Abandonment Affects the Right to Inherit

Ohio law is clear that a parent is barred from inheriting from a minor child they abandoned. Because a minor cannot legally execute a will, a minor who dies necessarily dies intestate (without a will). This statute makes it clear that a parent who abandoned a child, perhaps when the child was very young, cannot swoop back in years later and profit from the child's death.

The Ohio Revised Code does not have an analogous provision for spouses, however. This may be because, while a child cannot divorce a parent, an abandoned spouse has grounds for divorce in Ohio. One of these is willful… Read More

Can a Prenup Prevent Inheriting From Your Spouse?

When most people think of prenuptial agreements, they think of planning for the possibility of divorce. However, a prenuptial agreement, or "prenup," can also have an impact on inheritance in the event of a spouse's death. There are a number of reasons you might want a prenup.

Why would someone create a prenup intended to limit a spouse's inheritance? Actually, this is not an uncommon motivation, especially in second marriages or late-in-life marriages. One spouse may have significant assets acquired before the second marriage, as well as children from a first marriage. Should that spouse die, their surviving spouse may inherit most of their assets. Then, when the surviving spouse later dies, those assets will be passed on to his or her children, leaving the children of the first spouse out in the cold.

This seems like an unfair result to most people. After all, the first spouse accumulated those assets before the second spouse… Read More

What Happens if You Wait Too Long to Claim Your Inheritance?

Receiving an inheritance is often bittersweet: on the one hand, you've likely lost someone dear to you, but are receiving some tangible remembrance of them. How long do you have to claim? And can you wait too long to claim your inheritance?

Chances are, you won't have to do much at all in order to receive what you are entitled to. The executor of the deceased person's estate is required to notify you if you are named in the will. If the deceased died without a will or estate plan, the administrator of the estate is required to notify you if you would inherit from the deceased under Ohio intestacy law.

If your whereabouts are known and you are entitled to inherit, the executor or administrator will distribute your share to you in order to be able to do a final accounting and close the estate. You don't have to affirmatively request it. Understand that even if you were bequeathed a certain amount, you may receive less than that if the estate didn't have enough assets to both satisfy creditors' claims… Read More

How to Find Out if You Have an Inheritance

It doesn't just happen in the movies: it's possible that in real life, a relative has passed away and left you a part of their estate. But how do you find out?

The answer depends on how you think the money might have been left to you. When most people ask whether they have an inheritance, they are thinking of the probate estate of the deceased person, also known as the decedent. So the first thing to do is to review the decedent's probate case.

When a person dies owning money or other assets in their sole name (as opposed to trust assets or assets held jointly with another person, like a house or joint bank account), that property must go through probate after their death in order to be administered to heirs. This is true whether or not the person had a last will and testament.

Probate matters are public record. If your deceased relative last resided in Montgomery County, Ohio, for instance, their probate case would be filed in the Montgomery County Probate Court. You would be able to look up, and look at, any documents in the case,. This would… Read More