Estate Planning – Still Need to Update Even With No Estate Tax Concerns


With the Federal estate tax exemption over five million dollars per person and no more Ohio estate tax, very few people have to be concerned about planning to avoid estate tax.  However, the need to periodically review and update an estate plan has not changed.  People should take time periodically to review his or her Will and/or Revocable Trust, financial and health care powers of attorney and Living Wills to check that the planning documents reflect his or her current wishes, especially upon the occurrence of significant events that may change one’s planning.  The legal documents are the framework for planning, but the client must make sure that the assets are set up to flow as desired. Many people will need to re-title assets and/or update the beneficiary designations of their retirement accounts, life insurance policies and/or annuities as part of the planning process.

The following are some non-tax estate planning tips for consideration:

  • People need to do planning for possible lifetime disability situations, including financial powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney and Living Wills.
  • Wills contain many non-tax planning provisions.  In a Will, one can choose a guardian and alternative for minor children, select successor custodians for Uniform Transfer to Minor accounts for children under age twenty-one, and designate executors (and alternatives) who will be in charge of the Probate process.
  • Consider the use of Revocable Trusts – nontax advantages include ease of management of assets and payment of expenses transferred into the trust during one’s lifetime by both the one establishing the Trust and by a successor Trustee in the event of lifetime disability, confidentially and avoidance of probate administration upon death, ease of ability to change, amend or revoke the trust during one’s lifetime upon a change in a family situation, change in financial condition or change in the laws, use of a restricted/limited trust for a handicapped or incompetent beneficiary and use of a restricted/limited trust for second marriage planning or other reasons.
  • Charitable gift planning/options
  • Liquidity concerns to be able to pay any expenses and provide for loved ones.
  • Gifting to family members for general or medical or educational expenses.
  • Clients who are about to re-marry should consider a prenuptial agreement to assure that their assets flow to their wishes, such as children from a previous marriage, in addition to other issues that may be covered.  Once married, those in a second marriage will need to work on their estate planning with an experienced attorney to develop a good plan with a satisfactory balance to provide for their surviving spouse as well as leave an inheritance to his or her children from a previous marriage or other family members.  The balance may be influenced by the length of the marriage, family relationships and financial needs of those involved.


These and other relevant issues should be discussed with an attorney experienced in estate planning, Probate and Trust law to arrive at a plan that reflects your personal objectives and goals and considers the laws that apply.  Please contact Jim Jacobson at or any of the other PS&E Estate Planning and Probate attorneys at 937-223-1130 if you have any questions.

AUTHOR: Jim Jacobson

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