Estate Planning Attorney

Experienced Probate Lawyers in Cleveland

What happened to my stuff when I die?  Who will take care of my kids? What will happen to my dog?  Will my kids have to pay taxes when I die?  These are all great questions that people find overwhelming when thinking about hiring an estate planning attorney. A solid estate plan, however, is necessary for everyone in order to preserve their legacy.  Petronzio Schneier Co., LPA can help you plan for your demise and give you the confidence in making the decisions that will impact your family’s future at your death,

What Is Estate Planning exactly?

Estate planning is the practice of drafting and signing agreement and contracts that will determine how your assets and debts will be distributed upon your death or in the event you become incapacitated. Three essential documents that should be in everyone’s estate plan, such as a Last Will and Testament, a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care.  Additionally, you may want to understand whether a trust would benefit your estate planning needs.

What is a..

  • Last Will and Testament-a document that determines how your assets will be distributed to chosen beneficiaries and how to pay any debts upon your death.  This document also allows one to name a Guardian or Custodian for yo9ur children should they be under the age of 18.
  • A Living Will– a document that establishes your end of life choices, including ongoing treatment and life support.  This document is imperative, so your family does not have to make these difficult decisions on your behalf.
  • Trust– a document that allows you to distribute assets to beneficiaries but without going through probate as a Last Will and Testament must.  There are many different kinds of trusts which may benefit you depending on your circumstances and what your estate planning goals are. Trusts allow you to distribute to beneficiaries over a period of time instead of all at once as a Last Will and Testament does. You could also use a trust for a pet or to hold funds for a special needs family member. 

Understanding Estate Planning

In order to maintain your estate plan, it is important to recognize that periodically your plan will need to be reviewed.  This may occur for reasons such as the following:

  • A significant change in your health or that of another family member dependent on you.
  • A significant change in your finances due to factors such as a large increase in your personal wealth due to savings, large bonuses, inheritances or early retirement programs offered by your employer.
  • Personal events that happen in the lives of you or your loved ones that may require or at least suggest that a change has to be made in the manner in which your property is to distributed after your death: for example, a reevaluation of the ability of one of your children to handle finances due to any number of reasons.
  • Change in the federal estate and income tax laws or state law that effect the planning we have already done or that creates new opportunities.

This list is certainly not inclusive; it is to suggest events will occur after the implementation of your estate plan that will require a reevaluation of the plan.  This has been our experience in creating personalized estate plans.

To ensure that there is a periodic review of your estate plan, you will be contacted by us in approximately three years.  You do not have to wait this period of time before there is a review of your plan.  Three years is only the period that we have recommended where there are no substantial changes in your personal life and finances.  If you suffer a serious illness that threatens your life or physical or mental capacities, we recommend that you or another family member contact us immediately so that we can advise you if anything should be done.

Estate Planning & Probate FAQs

Do we need a tax identification number for our trusts?
Not for your revocable living trusts.  Your social security number is your tax identification number.  If the trust is irrevocable (i.e., you cannot change it), then a tax i.d. number is needed.  Irrevocable trust are usually created to own life insurance or gifts to children and grandchildren.

Are there any tax consequences from having our assets in a revocable living trust?
No. All of income, gains, and losses are reported on the same on your tax filings.

How often should our estate plan be reviewed?
About every three years.  This is a reasonable amount of time.  However, if you believe there should be an earlier review, please contact us.

What should I do if I have a question or am not sure of something?
Pick up the phone and give us a call.  If our attorney who did your estate plan is not available, then ask for his or her legal assistant.  He/she can probably answer your question and if they are not sure, they can quickly get you the answer.

Will I be charged for these calls?
No. We consider this to be part of the original fee that you paid us.  We do not want you to have any reluctance to call us.  If we need to undertake some course of action as a result of the call, we will advise you as to what the fees would be for doing this.

Are our estate planning documents filed anywhere?
No.  There is no procedure for filing these documents and no benefit.

Where should I keep my estate planning documents?
At home. Not in a bank’s security deposit box. Make copies for your family.  We do not keep signed copies.

If there is a major change in the tax law that could affect the work that has been done, will I be contacted?
Yes. We follow very carefully changes in the law that effect taxation of individual and estates as well as new developments in estate planning strategy.

We presume that there are frequent changes in estate tax law and that this will require changes in our estate plan.  Is this true?
No.  Many of our clients are surprised to hear that the tax law affecting estate planning is, in general respects, quite stable.  The most significant reason why our clients need changes to their estate plan is the rapid increase in personal wealth that outstrips the tax protection original plan.

What happens if we move out of state?
This usually does not affect estate plan because the tax planning techniques are based on federal law, which is the same throughout the country.  However, we should talk about this to make sure nothing needs to be done. There may be real estate issues that you will need to take care of in your new state and we can discuss this.

Contact Anna M. Petronzio

Anna M. Petronzio, a Cleveland, Ohio collaborative and mediation divorce attorney, co-founded Petronzio Schneier Co., LPA in 1993 after graduating from Catholic University of America (B.A. 1990), Suffolk University Law School (J.D. 1993) and John Carroll University (M.A. 1999). Anna is a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar, the Geauga County Bar, the Justinian Form and she practices in Cuyahoga, Geauga and Lake counties. Anna is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP) and a founding member of the Cleveland Academy of Collaborative Professionals (CACP).

Call: 216-381-3400 x107
Email: apetronzio@ps-law.com
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