Daniel A Baron - Estate Planning Lawyer

What Is An Irrevocable Trust?

Cleveland, Ohio estate planning lawyer, Daniel A. Baron, offers the following information as to whether or not you should have an Irrevocable Trust as part of your comprehensive estate planning.

An Irrevocable Trust, by design cannot be modified in any fashion or terminated without the express written consent of the beneficiary or beneficiaries. Once the trust is created it stands AS IS and cannot be changed at all, notwithstanding a few exceptions.

  • Perhaps a beneficiary needs to be changed
  • Perhaps a financial institution may need clarification of a Trustees Identity
  • The beneficiary may need to terminate the trust early due to an immediate need for a large expense

Why would there exist a need for an Irrevocable Trust?

  • It protects your property held in Trust against creditors
  • It minimizes your estate tax liability
  • If you are looking to qualify for government assistance programs, i.e., Medicaid or Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits

There are three parties to a Trust:

First Party: The “Grantor” or “Settlor” who is the person or persons who establishes the trust. Keep in mind that when the Irrevocable Trust is established the “grantor” or “settlor” relinquishes all control of the assets held within the trust.

Second Party: The Trustee who are appointed by the “Grantor” or “Settlor” whose responsibilities include overseeing the assets, investments, etc., and to pay any expenses which benefits to beneficiary

Third Party:   The Beneficiary whose job it is, is to sit back relax and benefit from the income generated by the investments within the trust.

Let’s start the conversation to see if an Irrevocable Trust is the right tax planning strategy for you as part of your Comprehensive Estate Planning. For more information on reviewing your goals for your Comprehensive Estate Planning, contact Daniel A. Baron of Baron Law today at 216-573-3723.

Helping You and Your Loved Ones Plan for the Future

 

Estate Planning Attorney

I’m An Executor Of An Estate, How Do I Transfer Property To Heirs And Beneficiaries?

Baron Law, LLC answers questions for you on transferring property to heirs and beneficiaries while acting as an executor of an estate. It is wise to always hire/consult an experienced estate planning attorney to help you navigate through the questions you may have.

Estate fiduciaries are charged with many obligations and responsibilities during estate administration, the most visible of which is the transfer of real and personal property to designated parties and legitimate creditors. The transfer of property is what everyone thinks about when talking about probate, who gets what and when. Well, just like everything else regarding estate and probate law, there are rules at follow. As always, a local Cleveland, Ohio probate attorney is in the best position to inform you on applicable rules and considerations, a quick phone call can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches.

With regard to estate property, usually the Ohio executor or administrator, sometimes even a beneficiary, must ensure that the proper documentation has been completed in order to transfer the ownership of all property whose interest is passing due the passing of decedent. What documentation is exactly needed, however, depends largely on the type of property passing, the relevant ownership rights within such property, and also whether the property is countable as a probate or non-probate asset.

Real Property

For real property that was owned by the decedent and which passes through probate, the estate fiduciary must file an application for certificate of transfer of real property with the probate court. The required contents, as mandated by Ohio law, for this application are found under Ohio Revised Code § 2113.61(A)(2). Within five days of filing the application for certificate of transfer that is statutorily compliant, the probate court will issue a certificate of transfer to be recorded in the land records where the property is located. This certificate of transfer is the document that actually transfers title for the real property to the relevant beneficiaries denoted in a will.

The procedure for transferring real property from an estate to someone other than a designated beneficiary, for example if real property is sold by an executor, however, is not handled by a certificate of transfer. Real property might be sold during estate administration to resolve outstanding obligations or expenses of decedent, or if the decedent was under contract to selling certain property. In such circumstances, a fiduciary deed would be executed by the estate fiduciary in order to convey the property. When a fiduciary deed is used, the grantor is the fiduciary and is effectively “stepping in the shoes” of the decedent for purposes of the transfer.

Personal Property

The most common personal property an estate fiduciary will handle are bank and investment accounts, especially if the decedent was on Medicaid or other government assistance. Such programs usually have strict income and property thresholds which leaves elder decedents with much smaller estates usually only comprising of an exempted personal residence and small expense account.

Typically, an estate fiduciary will transfer all of the decedent’s bank and brokerage accounts to the name of the estate during the administration. As such, new accounts will be set up under the tax identification number of the estate. In order to transfer a bank or brokerage account from the decedent’s name to the estate, the estate fiduciary usually needs to provide the financial institution which is holding the funds in the name of the decedent with a copy of the death certificate and his letters of authority to act on behalf of the estate. Nowadays, however, most bank and financial institutions have particularized processes for the release of decedent assets to the estate, so it is highly probable a death certificate and letters will not be enough. Because everything is computerized and identity theft has become so prevalent, banks and investment houses want certain forms completed and additional confirmations of the legitimacy of the transfer. An experienced Cleveland probate attorney will know what documents to present and which forms are needed for which financial institution.

Once the accounts are transferred into the name of the estate, the estate fiduciary has more control over the accounts. Before closing the estate, the estate fiduciary can transfer the account assets to the appropriate beneficiaries or liquidate as needed to sustain the costs of estate administration or pay critical obligations. The transfer is usually accomplished by directing the appropriate financial institutions to distribute the assets in kind or cash as the case may be. Again, the paperwork that is required to do this specific and a guiding hand by an Ohio probate attorney will avoid costly mistakes.

Some property, however, passes by operation of law, usually via beneficiary designation. The most common types of property are:

Concurrently owned property with rights of survivorship -This type of concurrently owned property will pass automatically to the surviving owner without regard to the terms of decedent’s will or Ohio intestacy statues, if applicable.

Life Insurance Policies – The terms of a life insurance contract usually allow the policy owner to direct by beneficiary designation where the proceeds of the policy go upon the insured’s death. As such, the proceeds pass automatically without the involvement of a probate court.

Retirement Accounts – Various employee or individual retirement accounts allow the designation of beneficiaries upon death of the owner. Same as with life insurance, cash in these accounts pass automatically without the involvement of a probate court.

Property held under Revocable Trust – Any property held under this type of trust at the time of decedent’s death will usually pass according to the terms of the trust agreement rather than be part of the decedent’s probate estate.

The acquisition, management, and distribution of estate assets is one of the most time-consuming and emotionally draining duties of an estate fiduciary. Aggressive estate claimants, pushy heirs and beneficiaries, and stubborn financial institutions make getting things where they need to go much more difficult than it otherwise should be. An experienced Ohio attorney can act as a buffer between you and those parties who would otherwise making administrating an estate much more difficult.

You don’t have to be rich to protect what you’ve spent a lifetime trying to build. To find out whether a trust is right for your family, take the one-minute questionnaire at www.DoIneedaTrust.com. There are a number of different trusts available and the choices are infinite. With every scenario, careful consideration of every trust planning strategy should be considered for the maximum asset protection and tax savings. For more information, you can contact Mike Benjamin of Baron Law LLC at 216-573-3723. Baron Law LLC is a Cleveland, Ohio area law firm focusing on estate planning and elder law. Mike can also be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

Helping You And Your Loved Ones Plan For The Future

About the author: Mike E. Benjamin, Esq.

Mike is a contracted attorney at Baron Law LLC who specializes in civil litigation, estate planning, and probate law. He is a member of the Westshore Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Ohio. He can be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

Disclaimer:

The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The author nor Baron Law LLC cannot and does not guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Laws of a particular state or laws that may be applicable in a given situation may impact the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of the preceding information. Further, federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Changes in such laws often have material impact on estate planning and tax forecasts. As such, the author and Baron Law LLC make no warranties regarding the herein information or any results arising from its use. Furthermore, the author and Baron Law LLC disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or any financial position taken in reliance on, such information. As always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal or tax situation

Daniel A Baron Estate Planning lawyer

What Is A Revocable Trust?

Cleveland, Ohio estate planning lawyer, Daniel A. Baron, offers the following information as to whether or not you should have a Revocable Trust as part of your comprehensive estate planning.

When you decide it is time to do your estate planning, one decision to make is: Do I Need A Trust? If the answer is yes, then the next question is whether or not a Revocable or Irrevocable Trust is the right tool to use in your Comprehensive Estate Planning.  Although both of these are created to avoid probate, there are differences between the two.

A Revocable Trust means you can change things at any time such as;

  • Beneficiaries
  • Add items of value to the trust or remove items from the trust and so on.
  • Changing Trustees
  • Change what funds the trust
  • Eliminate the trust
  • Change amounts to be funded
  • Add Trustees

With a Revocable Trust – the Grantor or Settlor creates the trust AND can also act as the Trustee AND can be named as the beneficiary.

An Irrevocable Trust means no changes can be made (with a few exceptions) once the trust is created.

An Irrevocable Trust has three parties to the Trust; the Grantor or Settlor, the Trustee(s), and the beneficiary or beneficiaries.

  1. The Grantor or Settlor is the person who funds or establishes the Trust
  2. The Trustee is the person who oversees the trust, and
  3. The beneficiary reaps the rewards of the income generated by the investments of the trust. Although the Grantor / Settlor and the beneficiary can be the same, they cannot act as the Trustee

With a Revocable Trust you must remember if you are looking to keep investments, bank accounts, property, and any other such asset as part of the trust, the accounts must be set up in the trusts name and property must be titled to the trust.  Failure to do this while you are still living means that the assets still in your personal name at the time of your death will be subject to probate and a larger amount of estate taxes.

If you are having difficulty determining whether your situation calls for a Revocable or Irrevocable Trust, seek the advice of an experienced Estate Planning Lawyer. For more information on reviewing your goals for your Comprehensive Estate Planning, contact Daniel A. Baron of Baron Law today at 216-573-3723.

Helping You and Your Loved Ones Plan for the Future

Cleveland Ohio Business Attorney

If I Have A Dispute With My Employer Or My Employee, Do I Have To Go To Court?

Baron Law, LLC is your trusted law firm for business owners and entrepreneurs. Don’t wait until it’s too late to consult/hire a business attorney for your legal issues.

Litigation is an expensive and time-consuming process, but sometimes it a necessary one. Some disputes escalate too quickly, involve issues too complex, or concern such vast amounts of money or resources that resolution through the courts is the only realistic option. That said, most of us won’t be involved with extensive litigation regularly but even relatively simple matters, after lawyers and judges are involved, can balloon into runaway trains of expense and stress. That is why alternative dispute resolution options are becoming more popular both in business and personal transactions. Mediation and arbitration are ways to resolve disputes amicably but also save costs, save time, and save business relationships. Any business owner who uses lawsuits as the primary means to solve grievances will find profits quickly fall and business prospects dry up. A local Cleveland business attorney can tell you how install arbitration and/or mediation procedures into employment, business, and contractor agreements so if problems ever do arise, more options will be available to you to resolve the dispute.

I) Mediation

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a confidential and non-binding dispute resolution process often used as an alternative to lengthy and expensive lawsuits.

Per the Uniform Mediation Act Section 2(1), mediation is a process in which a mediator facilitates communication and negotiations between parties to assist them in reaching a voluntary agreement regarding their dispute.

Per O.R.C. § 2710.07, mediation is confidential and whatever transpires at mediations isn’t disclosed publicly. Further, statements made at mediation are not admissible as evidence. See Ohio Evidence Rule 408. Statements during mediation are not admissible evidence because public policy is better served if the parties can speak openly and honestly during mediation. Thousands of man hours and millions of dollars are saved by steering disputes out of the court system and resolving them through mediation.

At the conclusion of a successful mediation, mediation agreements are entered into by parties to further solidify and confirm confidentiality and set out the terms of the amicable resolution. Your business attorney can draft one up when the time comes.

Why to Mediate:

Ultimately, it is cheaper and faster to resolve a dispute with mediation than going to court. Further, mediation preserves personal and professional relationships. Litigation and legal complaints are the nuclear option which effectively destroys trust and relationships. Furthermore, you have greater control over the outcome of mediation, unlike litigation. With litigation, the trier of fact, either a judge or jury, decides the case.

With mediation, you have input over the final resolution of the matter, greater availability of creative solutions (non-monetary), can reduce legal expenses and loss of business opportunities and profits. Additionally, privacy is often a major benefit of mediation, legal decisions are publicly accessible and litigation involves more people naturally. Thus, more people means greater likelihood of embarrassing information getting out.

Further, mediation is designed to overcome barriers to communication such as difficult opposing party and difficult opposing counsel. It is much harder for these parties to be stubborn and unrealistic to a licensed mediator, such mediators won’t put up with any horseplay or unconscionable negotiation tactics and are highly motivated to seek and facilitate a quick resolution.

When is the best time to mediate?

At the outset/before a dispute – it may be more successful to “nip it in the bud” because it takes place before the knives of litigation come out, hurting feelings and entrenching conflicting positions.

After partial discovery – may be beneficial to mediate after some discovery because both parties have incurred attorney fees and discovery expenses and, at this point, both parties have a deeper understanding of the relative strength and weaknesses of both sides. Furthermore, the costs incurred so far puts in it perspective for both parties the cost of protracted fighting.

After full discovery, but before trial – at this point it is basically the last chance to mediate before a lengthy, and correspondingly expensive, courtroom battle occurs. Furthermore, this is the last chance for the parties to resolve the dispute themselves before it is handed over to a trier of fact, and who knows what they’ll do. Remember, OJ went to jail for robbery, not murder.

Who attends a mediation?

A person with authority to make binding decisions, for both parties, often a designated agent or attorney. Additionally, others with knowledge of dispute or who are instrumental for final decision, often this means spouses and/or business partners.

II). Arbitration

What is Arbitration?

Arbitration is a contractual agreement to submit disputes to a third-party neutral for a binding decision. See O.R.C. § 2711. Arbitration occupies the middle ground between mediation and full-blown lawsuit.

Why Arbitrate?

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution available when a final and binding resolution is needed as quickly and cheaply as possible. The decision of an arbitrator or an arbitration panel is binding and enforceable at law. Lawsuits may be used to enforce the decision if the losing party does not comply. In such a lawsuit, an arbitration decision can be very persuasive evidence to possess. Further, noncompliance to a binding arbitration decision often makes this party liable for the costs of enforcing the decision, that is they have to pay the attorney fees of the innocent party to sue them.

Arbitration is often more beneficial in the business context where the financial stakes are higher. Many businesses operate within the confines of a delicate web of supply and distribution where even a relatively minor and short-term disruption can cause significant damage to on-going operations. Further, in our current age of social media, public perception is more critical than ever before. Thus, embarrassing or unpopular information regarding how a company does business getting out can do more damage and cost more money than the underlying dispute.

Important to note, however, arbitration cannot used to settle disputes concerning ownership or real estate. See O.R.C. § 2711.01(B)(1). However, a local Cleveland area attorney can easily add arbitration provisions to trusts, and such trusts can be funded with real estate. As such, arbitration is available in a widely variety if contexts if an experienced Ohio attorney is used.

An Ohio business attorney is in the best position to advise on the most effective alternative dispute resolution process for you and your situation. We’ve all heard the stories of business owners or owners and customers suing one another over relatively minor sums of money, then at the end of the long lawsuit, the attorney fees dwarf the amount of money that was originally fought over by the parties. Smart and precise use of alternative dispute resolution procedures can save your business thousands of dollars not only for one business deal gone bad, but many times over during the life of your business.

For information on arbitration, mediation, or any other business law matter, contact the attorneys at Baron Law LLC. The author of this blog, Mike Benjamin, can be reached at 216-573-3723. Baron Law LLC is a Cleveland, Ohio area law firm focusing on estate planning and elder law. Mike can also be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

About the author: Mike E. Benjamin, Esq.

Mike is a contracted attorney at Baron Law LLC who specializes in civil litigation, estate planning, and probate law. He is a member of the Westshore Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Ohio. He can be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

Disclaimer:

The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The author nor Baron Law LLC cannot and does not guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Laws of a particular state or laws that may be applicable in a given situation may impact the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of the preceding information. Further, federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Changes in such laws often have material impact on estate planning and tax forecasts. As such, the author and Baron Law LLC make no warranties regarding the herein information or any results arising from its use. Furthermore, the author and Baron Law LLC disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or any financial position taken in reliance on, such information. As always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

Baron Law LLC Cleveland Ohio

I’m Thinking Of Incorporating My Business, What Is An S Corporation?

Are you thinking of incorporating your business? Have you considered becoming an “S Corporation” instead. Cleveland Business Attorney Baron Law LLC offers you the following information to consider before making the choice. What are the advantages of becoming an “S Corp”?

Nowadays many businesses are taking advantage of incorporation to protect themselves and their owners. A common question is which type of business structure is best. Should I create an LLC, C-Corp, or S-Corp? Sole-Proprietorship? Partnership?

As with many legal and economic questions, the answer isn’t black and white. The reason there are so many options when forming your business is because every business venture is different and possesses different opportunities and issues. That is why a good business attorney is invaluable. Ultimately, knowing which type of business entity to create is best found out through experience, and a good Ohio business attorney will have the necessary experience to help you make the best decision. For this discussion, though, S-Corporations are the focus. “S-Corps” have been steadily rising in popularity in recent years and many small business owners are wondering if and how using this type of incorporation is right for them.

What is an S corporation?

An S corporation is a pro-profit corporate structure that elected to be taxed under Subsection S of the Internal Revenue Code. Such election subjects the corporation to “pass-through” taxation while still retaining many of the benefits of “regular” incorporation.

The first primary distinguishing characteristic of an S-Corp is the pass-through taxation. That is corporate income, losses, deduction, and credits pass through the corporation to its shareholders for federal tax purposes. Thus, the shareholders report the profits and losses of the S-Corp, which is proportionally assigned to each shareholder’s ownership interest, on their individual tax returns and are taxed at individual income tax rates. This effectively avoids the double taxation that regular C-Corporations are subject to.

The second distinguishing characteristic of an S-Corp is the relative difficulty in formation. That is, compared to making an LLC or a C-Corp, the IRS/Secretary of State is much more stringent with the formal requirements of an S-Corp. Consequently, the initial satisfaction of these requirements and the continuing obligations inherent in remaining S-Corp eligible means more paperwork and corporate legwork is needed compared to other corporate forms. Ensuring these requirements are met, every year, is a major reason why Ohio business attorneys are retained. Finding out during tax season that your business was in violation of the IRS code and was subject to a completely different tax structure may leave a company insolvent or unknowingly operating at a loss for the fiscal year. Not exactly a fun conversation to have with shareholders.

What are the requirements of an S corporation?

Per the Internal Revenue Service, to qualify for S corporation status you must first file for “regular” corporate status then elect to become an S-Corp by submitting IRS Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation. In order to file IRS Form 2553, a corporation must observe the following formalities:

The business must be a domestic corporation or a domestic entity eligible to elect to be treated as one.

The business cannot have more than 100 shareholders. (Note, spouses and members of the same family, respectively, are treated as one shareholder.)

The business must only be comprised of allowable shareholders. Only permittable individuals, trusts, and estates under the IRS code. Partnerships, non-resident alien shareholders, and other corporations are not allowed.

The business must only have one class of stock. Generally, a corporation is treated as having only one class of stock if all outstanding shares of the corporation’s stock confer identical rights to distribution and liquidation proceeds.

Each shareholder consents to the S-Corp election and manifests such consent in writing.

The business is not an ineligible corporation for S-Corp election, that is certain financial institutions, insurance companies, possessions corporations, or domestic international sales corporations.

Furthermore, S-Corps must also observe more stringent internal corporate formalities. This proves to the IRS that the S-Corp election, and its accompanying advantages, are being used for legitimate business purposes and not to the detriment of the public or for ill-gain. The logic is if shareholders are willing to follow the rules in regard to corporate management, then probably the business isn’t stealing or hurting people. Some of the required formalities for S-Corporations include: adopting corporate bylaws, issuing stock to shareholders, holding an initial director and shareholder meeting, holding the same meeting at least once a year, and recording and storing meeting minutes within corporate records. An experienced business attorney can draft a comprehensive business plan to follow and assist in its implementation.

What are the benefits of an S corporation?

Asset Protection

All corporations, like LLCs, C-Corps, and S-Corps, provide their owners/shareholders with limited liability protection. Limited liability means that the owners or shareholders personal assets are protected from claims of the creditors of the business. This includes claims that also arise from contract disputes and litigation, either the cost of defending or prosecuting litigation or via adverse judgments against the business. Without this shield, which comes from filing and choosing to operate a business via a corporate form, debts of the business attach to the individuals running the business. In light of this big personal risk, most people would choose not to operate a business. This is why a Cleveland business attorney is so important, these attorneys ensure that the required corporate formalities are followed so the limited liability shield is recognized by the courts and creditors and can protect you.

Pass-Through Taxation

As previously mentioned, S-Corps are classified as pass-through business entities. As such, they avoid double taxation that C-Corps are subject to. Double taxation occurs when dividend income is taxed at both the corporate level, when the business receives the profits, and at the shareholder level, when the shareholder receives their proportionate share of the business dividends. Instead of the IRS getting two bites, with S-Corps they only get one. Further, additional corporate benefits such as business income, tax deductions, losses, and certain credits also can pass through the S-Corp to the shareholders.

Deciding to incorporate and choosing which type of corporate structure to operate as are big decisions. The particular type of corporate form you go with fundamentally affects how you will run and manage your business. A business attorney is in the best position to advise and assist in making the best decision. Regardless of how you incorporate, any comprehensive corporate formation will include, at minimum, an operating agreement, certificates of membership, articles of incorporation, EIN number, subscription agreement, recommendations, and appropriate filing fee. For existing and soon-to-be corporations alike, make sure you have all these documents, failure to do so could cost you thousands of dollars down the line.

You don’t have to be rich to protect what you’ve spent a lifetime trying to build. To find out whether a trust is right for your family, take the one-minute questionnaire at www.DoIneedaTrust.com. There are a number of different trusts available and the choices are infinite. With every scenario, careful consideration of every trust planning strategy should be considered for the maximum asset protection and tax savings. For more information, you can contact Mike Benjamin of Baron Law LLC at 216-573-3723. Baron Law LLC is a Cleveland, Ohio area law firm focusing on estate planning and elder law. Mike can also be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

About the author: Mike E. Benjamin, Esq.

Mike is a contracted attorney at Baron Law LLC who specializes in civil litigation, estate planning, and probate law. He is a member of the Westshore Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Ohio. He can be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

Disclaimer:

The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The author nor Baron Law LLC cannot and does not guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Laws of a particular state or laws that may be applicable in a given situation may impact the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of the preceding information. Further, federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Changes in such laws often have material impact on estate planning and tax forecasts. As such, the author and Baron Law LLC make no warranties regarding the herein information or any results arising from its use. Furthermore, the author and Baron Law LLC disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or any financial position taken in reliance on, such information. As always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

Baron Law LLC Estate Planning Attorney

529 Plan For Your Grandchildren?

Baron Law LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, offers information for you to reflect upon while you are setting out looking for an estate planning attorney to help protect as much of your assets as you can. For more comprehensive information contact Baron Law Cleveland to draft your comprehensive estate plan to endeavor to keep more of your assets for your heirs and not hand them over to the government by way of taxes.

In order to become Medicaid eligible, generally, one must have $2,000 or less in assets and earn only $2,205 or less per month in income. There are, however, multiple exceptions which carve out excludable assets, such as the child caregiver exception and the community spouse resource allowance. With the recent upswing in U.S. financial markets, many individuals are asking their estate planners and elder law attorneys ways to save or invest their money but not run afoul of eligibility requirements for government assistance programs such as Social Security and Medicaid. Increasing in popularly and meeting this increased need for saving and investment, 529 and 529A plans are widely being used by Ohio estate planning attorneys to great benefit and profitability.

What is a 529 Plan?

A 529 Plan is comparable to a health saving account. Money is put in and receives tax-benefits if used for educational purposes. All of the contributions made to the account grow tax-free and withdrawals are free from federal and state tax if used for qualified higher education expenses. Significantly, contributions to 529 Plans are not tax deductible. 529 Plans allow money to accrue tax free for the benefit of a designated third-party beneficiary while still retaining control of the assets by the owner prior to distribution provided such funds are spent on education.

529 Plans are a countable Medicaid asset because the owner can take their money back out at any time. As such, an individual owning a 529 Plan will face eligibility problems for government assistance programs if the money within a 529 Plan isn’t spent before applying for such assistance. The critical question is who owns the account. If owner reserves right to revoke or take the money within a 529 Plan, Medicaid will require the money to be spent on healthcare, spenddown, before eligibility for Medicaid services. Further, improper distributions, i.e. spending the money in the 529 account for medical bills instead of college, will trigger deferred taxes, plus penalties of 10 percent.

One solution to a mandatory 529 account spenddown is to legally shift the account to a family member of the beneficiary, such as a grandchild’s parents. However, though this effectively transfers control of the money to a third party thus facially making it a noncountable asset, such a transaction is still considered a transfer of assets that triggers a Medicaid penalty period if it occurs within the 5-year lookback window.

At this point, 529 Plans are not a recognized federal exception and no Ohio regulations are on the books exempting 529 Plans as a countable Medicaid asset. As such, estate and Medicaid planners must be aware that even though 529 Plans are attractive vehicles for saving, 529 Plan use may have significant consequences for seniors and individuals in need of government assistance programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Contract a local Cleveland estate planning attorney to find out which saving accounts are preferable for your situation.

What is a 529 A plan?

Often referred to as a STABLE or ABLE account, 529A plans are accounts used as moderate investment vehicles to generate money to pay for approved expenses for the disabled. STABLE accounts are exempted from Medicaid and are not a countable resource. As such, having a STABLE account does not affect Medicaid eligibility. Further, the first $100,000 in a STABLE account is exempt from the Social Security Income limit.

Additionally, taxpayers can deduct contributions up to $​4,000 from their Ohio taxable income per STABLE account, per year, with unlimited carryforward of contributions over the yearly amount. This means that if contributions exceed $4,000 to a STABLE account in a year, the remainder of your contributions are carried forward to subsequent years until your entire contribution has been fully deducted. In this way, the government incentivizes maximum STABLE contributions which, in turn, reduces the financial burden on government assistance programs. Furthermore, a beneficiary’s individual contributions may also be eligible for the federal Saver’s Credit. An Ohio estate planning attorney can fill you in on the details, use, and eligibility requirements of the federal Saver’s Credit.

STABLE account earnings are not subject to federal income tax provided they are spent on qualified disability expenses. Acceptable. i.e. qualified, expenses are quite more expansive than with 529 Plans, an expense is qualified if 1) the expense was incurred at a time when an individual was suffering from an eligible disability, or 2) the expense relates to the disability, or 3) the expense assists in the maintenance or improvement of health, independence, or quality of life for a disabled individual.

Qualified expenses are not just medical expenses, but also include education, vocational, and living expenditures. Some examples include:

Tuition, books, and educational supplies and materials

Rent, mortgage, property taxes, and utilities

Transportation, qualified vehicles, and moving expenses

Vocational training

Health insurance premiums, medical equipment, treatment, and personnel

Legal fees, financial management services, and funeral expenses

If STABLE funds are used for non-qualified purposes, the owner will have to pay income taxes on the distributions, plus an additional 10% penalty. Further, the non-qualified funds can be counted as an asset/income for eligibility for government assistance programs such as Medicaid and Social Security. If you’re thinking about taking significant distributions from STABLE plans, always consult your estate planning attorney. The last thing you want is to get a disabled family member kicked off government assistance and then have to go through the arduous process of reapplying.

There are five investment options to choose from for a STABLE account, however, a financial adviser is in the best position to pick the best option for a client. A STABLE account used in conjunction with a special needs trust is an effective and powerful investment tool for those with disabled children or family members. Further, federal regulations specifically provide for tax-free rollovers from 529 college savings plans to STABLE accounts. Most people chose to rollover because either college expenditures are no longer needed or a priority in light of a recent and significant health change for a loved one.

529 college saving accounts and STABLE plans can become an indispensable saving and investment vehicle in one’s estate plan. An experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney is in the best position to advise you of the pro’s and con’s of each. Maintaining eligibility for government assistance while maximum personal retention of money and assets is perhaps the most common concern for clients of elder law attorneys. Both of the above mentioned tools, in the right hands, can financially provide for necessary healthcare and save or earn a lot of money for family members.

You don’t have to be rich to protect what you’ve spent a lifetime trying to build. To find out whether a trust is right for your family, take the one-minute questionnaire at www.DoIneedaTrust.com. There are a number of different trusts available and the choices are infinite. With every scenario, careful consideration of every trust planning strategy should be considered for the maximum asset protection and tax savings. For more information, you can contact Mike Benjamin of Baron Law LLC at 216-573-3723. Baron Law LLC is a Cleveland, Ohio area law firm focusing on estate planning and elder law. Mike can also be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

Helping You And Your Loved Ones Plan For The Future

About the author: Mike E. Benjamin, Esq.

Mike is a contracted attorney at Baron Law LLC who specializes in civil litigation, estate planning, and probate law. He is a member of the Westshore Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Ohio. He can be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

Disclaimer:

The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The author nor Baron Law LLC cannot and does not guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Laws of a particular state or laws that may be applicable in a given situation may impact the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of the preceding information. Further, federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Changes in such laws often have material impact on estate planning and tax forecasts. As such, the author and Baron Law LLC make no warranties regarding the herein information or any results arising from its use. Furthermore, the author and Baron Law LLC disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or any financial position taken in reliance on, such information. As always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

Baron Law Cleveland Ohio

I Have A 529 Plan, Am I Medicaid Eligible?

Baron Law LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, offers information for you to reflect upon while you are setting out looking for an estate planning attorney to help protect as much of your assets as you can.  For more comprehensive information contact Baron Law Cleveland to draft your comprehensive estate plan to endeavor to keep more of your assets […]

Baron Law Cleveland Ohio

My Trustee Isn’t Very Good At Their Job, Can I Get Rid Of Them?

Baron Law LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, offers information for you to reflect upon while you are setting out looking for an estate planning attorney to help protect as much of your assets as you can.  For more comprehensive information contact Baron Law Cleveland to draft your comprehensive estate plan to endeavor to keep more of your assets for your heirs and not hand them over to the government by way of taxes.

Trusts are common estate planning tool. They are used to plan for retirement, provide for needed elder case, ensure Medicaid and other government aid eligibility, and provide for special needs children. A critical part of any trust is its trustee. The trustee is the primary agent responsible for managing trust assets and money and ensuring that the instructions and intent of the settlor are followed. At the end of day, if everything goes as planned, a trust will continue to exist and operate long after its settlor has passed. As such, the trustee is often solely responsible for the health of the trust and the welfare of trust beneficiaries.

With great power, comes great responsibility. Such is the case with trustees. In the same vein, however, most crime comes from opportunity. If there is nothing to steal, there is no chance of theft. The opposite also holds true. If you were left in an empty room with $300,000 dollars and no one was watching, how honest would you be? How honest could the ordinary man be? As such, tragically, too many trustees are found out too late to be lazy or untrustworthy and they must be removed and replaced. As with most things regarding trusts, Ohio law has set down rules and procedures to follow if you want to replace a trustee. Naturally, as with any legal question, always consult with an experienced Ohio estate planning attorney before you do anything.

Removal of a Trustee

Removal of a trustee requires serious consideration and appreciation for its consequences. Not only is it nuanced process requiring the learned help of an experienced Cleveland estate attorney, but it can also run counter to the express wishes and intent of the trust settlor. If the settlor is alive, and the trust revocable, replacing a trustee isn’t too big of a deal. But if the settlor is dead, and the trust irrevocable, now decisions have to be made that may subtract from the settlor’s goals.

A first trustee was an individual who the settlor had the utmost faith to carry out their wishes and guard their property. To go and replace them with another will affect how trust property is managed, how and when trust property is distributed, how much the trustee will demand as compensation, and the relationship between the trustee and beneficiaries. Since the power to replace a trustee shouldn’t be taken lightly, Ohio law placed rules and procedures on how and when it can be undertaken.

To start, the power to remove a trustee is primarily codified in O.R.C. § 5807.06(A). Wherein a “settlor, a cotrustee, or a beneficiary may request the court to remove a trustee, or the court may remove a trustee on its own initiative.” This by itself doesn’t say much, but evidently pretty much anyone with a legitimate interest in the trust may act to replace a trustee. The ability to do something, however, should always be paired with a valid reason why. This is where experienced Ohio estate planning counsel comes in handy. An attorney is in the best position when a trustee is just being difficult rather than derelict in their duties.

Why Remove a Trustee

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Generally, replacing a trustee should only occur in a handful of circumstances, most of which are codified in Ohio law. Per

O.R.C. § 5807.06(B), a court may remove a trustee for any of the following reasons:

The trustee has committed a serious breach of trust;

Lack of cooperation among cotrustees substantially impairs the administration of the trust;

Because of unfitness, unwillingness, or persistent failure of the trustee to administer the trust effectively, the court determines that removal of the trustee best serves the interests of the beneficiaries.

All these reasons go to a trustee’s inability to carry out their duties effectively or downright committing crimes as a trustee. A surly or unpleasant trustee is not grounds for removal, regardless of how much you dislike them. Only in extreme circumstances of incompetence, dereliction, or illegality should an action for trustee removal be undertaken. Your estate planning attorney is in the best position to judge when and if this threshold has been reached.

Importance of Successor Trustees

So, you’ve successfully removed an unsuitable trustee, now what? Naturally, a new trustee must be appointed and, of course, Ohio law provides for this possibility. Per O.R.C. § 5807.04 (C), if there is a vacancy in the trustee position, new trustee is selected using the following order of priority:

(1) By a person designated in the terms of the trust to act as successor trustee;

(2) By a person appointed by someone designated in the terms of the trust to appoint a successor trustee;

(3) By a person appointed by unanimous agreement of the qualified beneficiaries;

(4) By a person appointed by the court.

This is why selecting appropriate successor trustees, or drafting adequate methods to select them, are so important, though it is often seen as a throwaway detail when drafting a trust. At the very end of this list, a probate court has the authority to appoint a new trustee if no other methods exist. This is not an appetizing prospect for most settlors. The last thing settlors want is a court taking control out of their hands and appointing someone they don’t want or don’t know. The whole point of going through the long process of trust creation is a guarantee control of money and assets in specific and delineated ways. To have everything go right out the window because of improper successor trustee appointments is foolish. As such, proper thought and planning must go into your trustee and successor trustee appointments.

Most people don’t expect their first, or even second choices, for trustee to die, refuse appointment, or just not be very good at the job. An experienced Ohio estate planning attorney can help with the vetting process and also provide much needed instruction and guidance to selected trustees to make sure they understand the gravity of the position and possess the knowledge to do the job correctly and efficiently.

Helping You And Your Loved Ones Plan For The Future

About the author: Mike E. Benjamin, Esq.

Mike is a contracted attorney at Baron Law LLC who specializes in civil litigation, estate planning, and probate law. He is a member of the Westshore Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Ohio. He can be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

Disclaimer:

The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The author nor Baron Law LLC cannot and does not guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Laws of a particular state or laws that may be applicable in a given situation may impact the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of the preceding information. Further, federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Changes in such laws often have material impact on estate planning and tax forecasts. As such, the author and Baron Law LLC make no warranties regarding the herein information or any results arising from its use. Furthermore, the author and Baron Law LLC disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or any financial position taken in reliance on, such information. As always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

Dan Baron Baron Law

Exceptions and Bars to Inheritance

Baron Law LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, offers information for you to reflect upon while you are setting out looking for an estate planning attorney to help protect as much of your assets as you can. For more comprehensive information contact Baron Law Cleveland to draft your comprehensive estate plan to endeavor to keep more of your assets for your heirs and not hand them over to the government by way of taxes.

When someone dies intestate (without a will), there are several exceptions to the rules of descent and estate distribution which act to bar a person from receiving what would have been such person’s intestate share of the decedent’s estate. These rules and exceptions highlight the importance of having a comprehensive estate plan and, in certain circumstances, are of paramount importance to heirs and beneficiaries. Rules are only written when they are needed, and the context surrounding these rules and exceptions illustrate some of the more extreme problems that an estate administration may potentially face. As always, an experienced Ohio estate planning attorney can fill you in on all the details and make a plan that will deal with any issues proactively.

Slayer Statute

The most commonly known exception is the slayer statute which is codified under Ohio Revised Code § 2105.19. This statute deals with the crimes of aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, and/or complicity in the violation of any of the above crimes. If one has pled guilty to, has been convicted of, or has been found not guilty by reason of mental defect of, any one of the above crimes, such person is barred from receiving any portion of his or her victim’s estate. This statute bars inheritance regardless of whether it would have been through intestacy or as a bequest under a will. The same also applies to other property received as a result of death, like insurance proceeds. The slayer statute is an attempt by the Ohio legislature to write into law the cliché that crime doesn’t pay.

Illegitimate Children

Under common law, children born out of wedlock were not entitled to inherit from their mother or father. O.R.C. § 2105.17 states, however, that children born out of wedlock shall be capable of inheriting or transmitting inheritance from and to their mother and from and to those from whom she may inherit, or to whom she may transmit inheritance, as if born in lawful wedlock.

Ohio’s intestacy statute does not specifically address the ability of children born out of wedlock to inherit from their father. This issue, however, has been addressed in Ohio case law. Such case law has established multiple ways in which a child born out of wedlock could inherit from such a child’s father, some of the ways include the child’s father: 1) marrying the child’s mother, 2) providing for the child in a will, 3) designating the child as an heir, or 4) adopting the child.

The enactment of the Ohio Parentage Act, codified via O.R.C. § 3111, provided an additional way for a parent-child relationship to be established by allowing a child to bring an action to determine parentage. There has been disagreement among Ohio courts as to whether such actions to determine parentage must be brought prior to the father’s death. Some courts have held that while O.R.C § 2105.06 “does not require a parentage action to be brought before the death of the father… a probate court does not have jurisdiction to hear a parentage action under O.R.C. Chapter 3111.” See Estate of Hicks, 629 N.E.2d 1086 for more information. This likely creates a necessity to bring any parentage action by any estranged child as soon as possible in order to prevent being automatically disinherited by virtue of a lack of probate court jurisdiction. Contact a local Cleveland estate attorney to make sure your inheritance rights are valid and, if not, the appropriate steps are undertaken to validate and protect them.

Children Conceived as a Result of Rape

Recently in 2015, the Ohio legislature recently passed law that prevents a person who commits rape or sexual battery, or any of such person’s relatives, from receiving an intestate share from a child, or child’s decedents, who was conceived as a result of the rape. Such is codified via O.R.C § 2105.062.

Children who are abandoned by parents

If a minor child has been “abandoned” by a parent, then the parent is prevented from receiving an intestate share of the deceased minor’s estate. O.R.C. 2105.10(B). A child is “abandoned” by a parent if the parent has failed, without justifiable cause, to communicate with the minor, care for the minor, and provide support as required by law for at least a year immediately prior to the minor’s death. O.R.C. 2105.10 (A)(1). While few minors die with significant assets, this statute may be significant in the event of a wrongful death of the minor in which a significant windfall due in insurance proceeds or litigation may be contemplated. This potential windfall is a major reason why estate planning, even for individuals relatively young, should not be overlooked. The last thing a grieving family wants to do, while also negotiating a legal settlement, is deal with internal family disputes over who has authority over the decedent child’s estate, and along with it, the authority to negotiate the settlement amount for legal claims. Contact a local estate attorney to prevent this from happening.

Issues relating to adoption

Once a child has been adopted and after the final order of adoption is issued, the adopted child’s relationship with the natural/birth family, except the natural parent in the case of a step-parent adoption, is legally terminated. This eliminates any rights such child had to inherit from the natural family under the laws of descent and distribution. Instead, the adopted child, if that child is adopted prior to age 18, is treated as a child of the adoptive parent for purposes of intestate succession law and entitled to all the rights and privileges inherent to being a natural child.

These rules and exceptions to inheritance only touch on the multitude of problems and issues that face families when planning an estate or administrating an estate after death. Death is something no one likes to think about and even less people plan for. Just a few hours, however, with an experienced Cleveland land estate planning attorney can save your family months of stress and thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs.

You don’t have to be rich to protect what you’ve spent a lifetime trying to build. To find out whether a trust is right for your family, take the one-minute questionnaire at www.DoIneedaTrust.com. There are a number of different trusts available and the choices are infinite. With every scenario, careful consideration of every trust planning strategy should be considered for the maximum asset protection and tax savings. For more information, you can contact Mike Benjamin of Baron Law LLC at 216-573-3723. Baron Law LLC is a Cleveland, Ohio area law firm focusing on estate planning and elder law. Mike can also be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

About the author: Mike E. Benjamin, Esq.

Mike is a contracted attorney at Baron Law LLC who specializes in civil litigation, estate planning, and probate law. He is a member of the Westshore Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association for the Northern District of Ohio. He can be reached at mike@baronlawcleveland.com.

Disclaimer:

The information contained herein is general in nature, is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. The author nor Baron Law LLC cannot and does not guarantee that such information is accurate, complete, or timely. Laws of a particular state or laws that may be applicable in a given situation may impact the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of the preceding information. Further, federal and state laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. Changes in such laws often have material impact on estate planning and tax forecasts. As such, the author and Baron Law LLC make no warranties regarding the herein information or any results arising from its use. Furthermore, the author and Baron Law LLC disclaim any liability arising out of your use of, or any financial position taken in reliance on, such information. As always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal or tax situation.

baron law cleveland

A Trustee Isn’t Paying Me, What Can I Do?

Baron Law LLC, Cleveland, Ohio, offers information for you to reflect upon while you are setting out looking for an estate planning attorney to help protect as much of your assets as you can.  For more comprehensive information contact Baron Law Cleveland to draft your comprehensive estate plan to endeavor to keep more of your assets […]