"Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." This oft quoted line originates from Thomas Grey's "Ode on a Distant Prospect at Eton College."
When my son, Sam, celebrated his 18th birthday, I gave him (surprise!) his very own set of estate planning documents. They were not as popular as, say, a Land Rover, but they were definitely at the top of "my" list. Why? Because he was now an adult and I was now persona non grata.
Individuals always are looking for the most advantageous ways to support the charitable causes they believe in. While giving cash is common, there can be significant tax advantages by making gifts of property instead.
In 2014, the Columbus Dispatch published a five-part investigative report highlighting guardianship abuse in Ohio. During the course of the series, the Dispatch identified lawyer Paul S. Kormanik as a Court appointed guardian of over 400 incompetent adults. Mr. Kormanik did not meet with his wards on a regular basis, if at all, and was quoted as saying that nursing homes acted as his eyes and ears.
In Being Mortal, an incredibly rich and revealing book about what people care about as they age, Dr. Atul Gawande described how impressed he was by the importance people placed on maintaining control of their lives.
Inheritance fraud involves using deceit or misrepresentation to obtain undeserved assets or property from a decedent. While it may sound like something that could never happen to you or anyone you know, inheritance fraud occurs more frequently that you might imagine.
A well-publicized case out of Summit County highlights the importance of choosing your fiduciary wisely. Former radio personality Howie Chizek died in June 2012, leaving an estate with an estimated value of $1.6 million. The executor for his estate was an attorney named Charles M. Morgan. In addition to filing important probate documents late, the executor failed to file Ohio estate taxes, allowing interest and penalties to accrue for months after the estate tax return should have been filed.
As is often the case, sometimes it takes a while for the law to catch up with society's technological advances. Since the Internet is invisible, most people forget that their intangible digital assets are just as real as their tangible personal property. Currently, there are an estimated thirty million Facebook accounts that belong to people who are deceased. According to McAfee, in 2011 American consumers valued their digital assets, including online gaming, photos, music, client lists, bank accounts and bill-paying accounts at an average of $55,000 per person. And yet, few people plan for what will happen to those digital accounts when they die. Only a handful of states have addressed the ability of fiduciaries to handle and/or close down a decedent's or incapacitated person's accounts.
With a legacy of more than 160 years of service to clients in Dayton, throughout Ohio, and beyond, we understand the importance of time. You should know the right time to create or sell a business, the right time to grow your assets and the right time to decide where those assets should go when you are no longer able to take care of them yourself.
HISTORY LESSON: Back in days of yore (2/9/72 - 4/4/85) in Ohio, a form of property ownership known as Tenancy By the Entirety (TBE) was recognized. The TBE form of property ownership harkens back to times when women had much less control over their affairs and needed to be protected from their husband's debts. It is useful now to protect assets from creditors.