What’s the Best Way to Give My Stuff Away When I Die?

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By Attorney Ted Brown

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 1.34.22 PMThere is no doubt about it: Americans have a lot of stuff. Surveys consistently show that of all the Americans that have a garage, the majority of them cannot fit a vehicle inside it due to the fact that it is dedicated exclusively to the storage of stuff. “Stuff” can be almost anything, from furniture, family heirlooms, collections, clothing, tools, valuables or all those things earmarked for that future garage sale.

The trouble is what happens to all that stuff when we die? Most of the conflicts that arises in the estates that I handle deal with that stuff. Heirs generally don't argue over the money or the land but they frequently argue over who gets the stuff.

Therefore, if you have stuff that is important to you, it is very important to address it as part of your estate planning. For example, if you have a trust you want to make sure that your personal property is properly assigned to that trust. You can then provided specific instructions about who gets what within the language of the trust itself.

Specificity is always a good rule of thumb. As much specific instruction that you can put in writing about who gets what, where that item is located and how to tell it apart from the other stuff can go a long way to smooth out any potential disputes. It is important that these instructions are written in a way that someone who doesn't know anything about these items can read and understand it. These instructions should be signed and dated by you at the bottom of the document.

If you do not have any specific wishes then it is important to provide a method by which disputes are to be settled. For example, items are to be sold and the proceeds divided if the heirs cannot agree. Or perhaps heirs can choose items by “drawing straws.” Use your imagination.

In most cases, when a resolution process is provided along with carefully written distribution instructions, it will usually be followed and can save the family years of conflict and heartbreak. Your stuff is an important part of your formal estate planning, particularly if you believe as we do that “it should be easier for those who are left behind”. Please be sure to find experienced elder law attorneys to help you with the process.


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Don’t Try DIY Estate Planning

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By: Chris Meyer

We live in a world today where we are encouraged to “do-it-yourself”. In some scenarios, doing something yourself can be a rewarding and cost-efficient experience. However, this is most certainly not the case with estate planning. With the ongoing advancements in technology, certain websites are seemingly making it easier and easier to create your own legal documents such as a Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, and LLC. In theory, this sounds as though this would be a quick and easy way to complete your estate planning on your own. However, this is actually not the case. One main reason that do-it-yourself estate planning is usually not the best idea is that everybody’s situation is different. What might make sense for your family does not always make sense for someone else’s family. With a do-it-yourself Will or Trust, you are given a “one-size-fits-all” template and simply told to fill in the blanks. Estate planning is not that simple since everyone has a different amount of assets and different types of accounts, vehicles, property, etc. that compile their entire estate.


    Another main reason that do-it-yourself estate planning doesn’t work is that there is no type of recommendation as far as what will work best for you. In attempting to complete your estate planning on your own, self-help website fail to answer certain critical questions. These questions may include but are not limited to: How are your assets currently being held? Are you a veteran? What type of insurance do you have, if any? How should you decide who should be your Trustee, Executor, Power of Attorney, etc.? Would a Trust or a Will make more sense in your situation? What type of Trust should you have?


    By establishing your estate planning with Cooper, Adel & Associates you are ensuring that your estate plan will be handled with a sense of compassion and expertise that you simply cannot get through self-help estate planning venues. If you, or a loved one are interested in learning more about protecting assets for your children and other loved ones, please give us a call for a free one hour consultation with either Attorney Thom Cooper or Attorney Mitchell Adel at 1-800-798-5297.


Congratulations Jon Stevenson!

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We’d like to congratulate Jon Stevenson who will be starting law school at Capital University. Good luck Jon!


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Ohio On The Verge of Marriage Equality? Maybe

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By Attorney Keith Stevens

Last year, Judge Timothy S. Black of the Southern District Court of Ohio (the federal trial court) ruled that Ohio must recognize a validly-performed out-of-state same sex marriage and list the name of a deceased man’s husband on his death certificate as his spouse. Obergefell v. Wymyslo, 962 F. Supp. 2d 968 (S.D. Ohio 2013). The holding was specific to that couple and did not apply to Ohio’s statutory and constitutional prohibitions on same-sex marriage as a whole. [Read more...]