You do not need to be wealthy to consider trusts as a way to achieve important estate planning goals for yourself, your spouse and your heirs. While trusts have always been an important tool for managing estate tax liability for affluent families, they can also make a difference for people concerned about the future management of a family business, the preservation of a family farm, protecting the eligibility of a senior citizen or special needs adult child for government benefits, and many other needs.
To learn how trusts can help you accomplish the estate planning objectives most important to you and your family, contact and experienced trust lawyer.
Different trusts address different problems and goals. We can advise you about such trust alternatives as the following:
- Testamentary trusts associated with wills
- Retirement planning trusts to help you maximize the benefit of your IRA's, including the "stretch" feature
- Dynasty trusts to provide for children and grandchildren
- Living trusts to avoid Ohio probate and reduce your exposure to state or federal estate taxes
- Irrevocable life insurance trusts to provide for anticipated estate tax liability
- Creditor protection trusts
- Divorce protection trusts
- Charitable remainder trusts to benefit schools, foundations or religious organizations after your death
- Special needs trusts to provide for children with various mental / physical disabilities
The main characteristic of any trust is that it separates the ownership or title to an asset from the benefit that the asset generates. That is why transferring an asset into trust has the effect of reducing the size of your estate. That is also why a trustee, or the person who manages the trust and its property, is under a strict fiduciary duty to do so in the interests of the beneficiaries of the trust.
Under Ohio law, an advance directive consists of two documents: a health care power of attorney, designating a health care agent to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so; and a living will, specifying your wishes in the event of a terminal illness or a permanently unconscious state. Both "terminally ill" and "permanently unconscious state" are defined terms under Ohio law, and require the agreement of two physicians that they apply to a given patient's case.
If either of these conditions is confirmed by the two physicians, your physician is then authorized to follow your wishes in your living will, including the decision to terminate life support, in a manner consistent with the preferences expressed in the living will.