Estate Planning and Probate – What You Need to Know


Our probate and trust department will handle your legal affairs, ranging from estate planning to drafting wills, living trusts, and living will powers of the probate of one’s estate upon death. Timely consultations with our estate attorneys will help ensure that your family will receive the utmost protection and that your property will be saved from any unnecessary taxes.


What is Estate Planning?


Estate planning is the process of designating who will receive your assets and handle your responsibilities after your death or incapacitation. Estate planning can help establish a platform you can fine-tune as your personal and financial situations change. The key question to ask yourself is: How do you want your assets distributed if you die or are incapacitated? Our Estate Planning Attorney can help you go through all the issues and develop the best plan to ensure that your directives are followed.


Michael Dansack explains the differences between Estates and Probate, two commonly confused terms.


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Steps to Basic Estate Planning


Inventory Your Assets


The tangible assets in an estate may include:

  • Homes, land, or other real estate
  • Vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, or boats
  • Collectibles such as coins, art, antiques, or trading cards
  • Other personal possessions


The intangible assets in an estate may include:

  • Checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit
  • Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
  • Life insurance policies
  • Retirement plans such as workplace 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts
  • Health savings accounts
  • Ownership in a business


Account for Your Family


Once you have a sense of what’s in your estate, think about how to protect the assets and your family.

  • Do you have enough life insurance?
  • Name a guardian for your children.
  • Document your wishes for your children’s care.


Establish Your Directives


A complete estate plan includes important legal directives.

  • medical care directive, also known as a living will, spells out your wishes for medical care if you become unable to make those decisions yourself.
  • durable financial power of attorney allows someone else to manage your financial affairs if you’re medically unable to do so.
  • limited power of attorney can be useful if the idea of turning over everything to someone else concerns you. This legal document does just what its name says: It imposes limits on the powers of your named representative.
  • trust might also be appropriate in some cases. With a living trust, you can designate portions of your estate to go toward certain things while you’re alive. If you become ill or incapacitated, your selected trustee can take over. Upon your death, the trust assets transfer to your designated beneficiaries, bypassing probate, which is the court process that may otherwise distribute your property.


Review Your Beneficiaries


Your will and other documents may spell out your wishes; they may not be all-inclusive.


Note Your State’s Estate Tax Laws


Estate planning is often a way to minimize estate and inheritance taxes.


 Plan to Reassess


Life changes. So should your estate plan. Plan to review your Estate plan every three years unless a life-changing event happens, such as a birth, death, divorce, job change, etc.


What is Probate?


In Ohio, Probate is the legal process that happens after a person (the “decedent”) dies, regardless of whether the person died with a valid will or without a valid will. If a decedent dies with a will, then their property is distributed according to the will. If a person dies without a will, then Ohio probate laws dictate how the decedent’s assets are distributed. Probate isn’t always required after someone dies; it depends on what assets the decedent owned. (


What Happens if You Die Without a Will?


If you haven’t put your wishes in place with a Last Will and Testament, you have no control over who will receive your assets. Without a will, the probate court will refer to your state’s “intestate succession laws. In  Ohio, the property is distributed as follows: If there is a surviving spouse, the entire estate will go to him or her. If there is no spouse but there are children, the estate will be divided equally among them. The deceased’s parents will inherit if there is no spouse and no children.

Michael Dansack explains the complications that may occur if you die without a Last Will and Testament.


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Estate Planning Attorneys in Toledo


Let the experienced attorneys at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault help you. We can assist you with your probate and estate needs. Contact us now or call Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault to schedule a free consultation at one of our convenient office locations at 419-843-6663.