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Marriage alone is not a solid estate planning approach

There are a great many Ohio families in which the spouses intend to leave all of their assets to each other in the event of death. In many cases, both parties feel that they have worked hard to amass their wealth and that the fruits of that labor belong solely to their partner. Unfortunately, many are unaware of the best way to ensure that outcome, and they make the mistake of assuming that marriage is sufficient estate planning all on its own.

In reality, individuals who die without a will are in effect turning over the decision-making process to their state of residence. State law will dictate how assets are divided, and the end result may be far different from what was intended. The only way to ensure that one's wishes are carried out as planned is to put those plans into writing in the form of a legally binding will.

Without an estate plan in place, assets will go into probate, and the distribution of those assets will be handled according to the law. That means that all family members will be considered as heirs, even if the familial relationship has been abandoned or weakened long ago. A surviving spouse will still receive a portion of those assets, but children and other family members will also receive a portion of the pie.

Aside from losing assets, the absence of a will places surviving spouses in the difficult and unpleasant position of having to fight for what was intended to be theirs. This can lead to rifts within an Ohio family and resentments that will linger far longer than many imagine. Avoiding such an outcome is a simple matter and beings with creating a basic estate planning package.

Source:, "Myths of estate planning", Lawrence S. Jacobs, May 28, 2016

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