In Ohio, inheritance laws provide protection to surviving spouses, ensuring they cannot be excluded from a will. The rights of a surviving spouse in Ohio grant them the choice to accept the assets allocated to them in the deceased spouse’s will. Alternatively, they have the option to reject the provisions outlined in the will and instead claim a statutory share within a period of five months. Estate Planning for Surviving Spouses- After the death, the surviving spouse needs to review their estate plan. After the death of a spouse, the surviving spouse needs to review their estate plan to ensure that it is still up-to-date and meets their needs. This is because the death of a spouse can significantly change a person’s financial situation and priorities. Contact Rathburn & Associates for the best estate planning attorney near you in Columbus OH. Call (614) 497-9918
What to Review in Your Estate Plan
The following are some of the key things that a surviving spouse should review in their estate plan:
1) Beneficiary designations: All beneficiary designations for retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other financial accounts should be reviewed to ensure that they are still accurate and reflect the surviving spouse’s wishes.
2) Will and trust: The surviving spouse’s will and trust should be reviewed to make sure that they are still up-to-date and that they reflect the surviving spouse’s current intentions.
3) Power of attorney: If the surviving spouse has a durable power of attorney, they should review it to make sure that the person they have named as their agent is still the person they want to make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated.
4) Healthcare directive: If the surviving spouse has a living will or healthcare directive, they should review it to make sure that it is still up-to-date and that it reflects their current wishes for their end-of-life care.
The surviving spouse should also be aware of any tax implications of their spouse’s death. For example, the surviving spouse may need to file a joint tax return with their deceased spouse for the year of death. The surviving spouse may also be eligible to make a portability election, which allows them to transfer their unused estate tax exemption from their deceased spouse.
When to Update Your Estate Plan
In addition to reviewing their estate plan after the death of a spouse, the surviving spouse should also update their estate plan in Ohio whenever there is a significant change in their financial situation or priorities. This could include events such as:
- Getting married or remarried
- Having children or grandchildren
- Receiving a significant inheritance
- Starting a new business
Working with an Estate Planning Attorney
If you are a surviving spouse, it is essential to work with an estate planning attorney to review your estate plan and ensure it is still up-to-date and meets your needs. An estate planning attorney can help you understand the tax implications of your spouse’s death and can advise you on how to make any necessary updates to your estate plan.
Estate Planning for Surviving Spouses: Other Legal Documents to Review
In addition to wills and trusts, there are several other legal documents that surviving spouses should review after the death of their spouse. These include:
1) Durable power of attorney (DPOA): A DPOA allows you to appoint someone else to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. If your spouse was your DPOA, you will need to appoint a new one.
2) Medical power of attorney (healthcare proxy): A healthcare proxy allows you to appoint someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. If your spouse was your healthcare proxy, you will need to appoint a new one.
3) HIPAA release form: A HIPAA release form allows you to authorize specific individuals or organizations to access your medical records. This can be helpful if you want other family members to be able to communicate with your doctors or review your medical records.
It is important to review these documents with an estate planning attorney to make sure that they are up-to-date and meet your needs. Your attorney can also help you to understand the legal implications of the death of your spouse and can advise you on any other estate planning matters.
Tips for Reviewing Your Estate Planning Documents
Here are a few tips for reviewing your Ohio estate planning documents after the death of your spouse:
- Gather all of your estate planning documents, including your will, trust, DPOA, healthcare proxy, and HIPAA release form.
- Read through each document carefully to make sure that it is still accurate and reflects your current wishes.
- Pay particular attention to the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other financial accounts.
- If you have any questions or concerns about your estate planning documents, consult with an estate planning attorney.
Section 2105.06 | Statute of descent and distribution. Ohio Intestate Succession Laws
When a person dies without a will, their property is distributed according to Ohio’s intestate succession laws. These laws determine who inherits the deceased person’s property and in what order.
The following is a simplified overview of Ohio’s intestate succession laws:
- If the deceased person has a surviving spouse:
o The spouse inherits the entire estate if there are no children or their lineal descendants.
o If there are one or more children or their lineal descendants, the spouse inherits the first $60,000 of the estate, plus one-third of the balance. The children or their lineal descendants inherit the remaining two-thirds of the estate, divided equally.
- If the deceased person does not have a surviving spouse:
o The children or their lineal descendants inherit the entire estate.
o If there are no children or their lineal descendants, the parents inherit the entire estate, divided equally.
o If there are no parents surviving, the siblings or their lineal descendants inherit the entire estate.
o If there are no siblings or their lineal descendants surviving, the grandparents inherit the entire estate, divided equally.
o If there are no grandparents surviving, the next of kin will inherit the entire estate.
If there are no living heirs, the deceased person’s property escheats to the state. Important Notes:
1) Per stirpes: Per stirpes is a Latin term that means “by the stock.” In the context of intestate succession, it means that each branch of the family tree inherits separately. For example, if the deceased person has two children, each child will inherit one-half of the estate. If one of the children has died, their children would inherit the child’s share of the estate, divided equally.
2) Advancements: An advancement is a gift that is made to a child or grandchild during the lifetime of the deceased person with the intention that it be counted against their inheritance. For example, if the deceased person gives a child a down payment on a house, that gift may be considered an advancement and deducted from the child’s inheritance.
3) Exemptions: There are certain types of property that are exempt from intestate succession laws. For example, life insurance proceeds and retirement accounts are typically governed by beneficiary designations.
If you have questions about Ohio’s intestate succession laws, you should consult with Dennis Rathburn an estate planning attorney in Columbus OH.