Avoid Web Disclosure Of Family Assets Through Probate Court, Excess Taxes and Asset Mismanagement Losses.
By James T. Stimler, Esq.
Most Ohioans do not know that if they are not protected by their own Estate & Disability Planning Documents, which properly position their assets and their personal care for management outside of the Probate Court, they will find that their assets, the distribution of their assets, and even their medical treatment will be publicly disclosed through the local Probate Court Website (and Court’s hard copy case files) in the event of their disability and at the time of their death. This unexpected public disclosure includes the last four digits of one's social security number and the last four digits of one’s financial account numbers, including, but not limited to, debit cards and credit card numbers. In Ohio, Court records are presumed open to public access. In other words, failing to make your own proper Estate and Disability Plan can result in the public disclosure of your most personal information. Such disclosure isn’t from the “Dark Web”; it comes from your Probate Court as a matter of law.
Keep in mind that the Probate Court, to a large extent, is a default bureaucracy for Ohioans who have not deliberately planned for the management of their care and family assets when they become disabled or at the time of their death by creating their own Estate & Disability Planning Documents. Because so many of us go through some period of incapacitating illness, and because all of us will die, letting the control of your personal care and financial assets default to a judge or a magistrate who does not know you, your family or your financial circumstances, and who was not personally selected by you is inattentiveness that could result in significant unwanted outcomes to you and your loved ones, and is especially unacceptable in the context of a business owner or business management family.
Further, it is not surprising that persons who do not prepare for the significant possibility of an incapacitating illness or the inevitability of death also subject themselves to the payment of excess income taxes and other asset mismanagement losses. While it is true that Ohio eliminated the Ohio Estate Tax at the end of 2012 and the 2019 individual Federal Estate & Gift Tax exemption is now in excess of $11 million per person, there are still significant income tax savings available for families who properly manage the step-up in basis and other valuation aspects of their assets. There are other asset losses that can be avoided at disability and death if the person has the legally appropriate documentation in place which empowers that person’s representatives to manage assets effectively and efficiently.
To avoid web disclosure of family assets, to avoid excess taxes and other mismanagement of assets, you need an attorney who will thoroughly and respectfully assist you to position yourself to avoid these unacceptable default outcomes. With his over 40 years of experience in business, real estate and wills trusts and estates law, and his expertise as an OSBA Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law, Attorney James T. Stimler can assist you.
This blog article is for general educational purposes only and may not be relied upon as legal advice from the author to the reader.
© 2019 James T. Stimler, Esq.