Personal Planning

RKPT’s Personal Planning practice encompasses a wide range of services, from preparing estate planning documents for individuals and families, to succession planning for businesses, protection of assets, estate and trust administration, and establishing guardianships and conservatorships. We take great pride in the responsive and proactive approach we take for our clients. Working closely together to clearly identify and understand their goals and objectives, we come up with creative, comprehensive options to address our clients’ estate planning goals. Regardless of the size or complexity of the estate and the issues involved, we strive to deliver smart and creative solutions in an efficient, meaningful way.

Based in Cincinnati, we serve clients throughout the Midwest and Florida, and are dedicated to helping our clients plan for the future of their families and their businesses.

Our personal planning services include:

Estate Planning

RKPT attorneys have decades of experience advising clients on their estate planning needs. After a thorough consultation to determine your goals and needs, an estate planning attorney will create a customized estate plan to help you and your family meet your financial goals and leave a legacy to the people you care about, while minimizing estate and wealth transfer taxes.

Whether you have basic estate planning needs like a Trust, Will, Financial Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Health Care Powers of Attorney, or more complex estate planning needs like a more complex trust, foundation, or family limited partnership, our lawyers have the experience and expertise to offer you and your family sound advice and help you plan for life’s inevitable changes.

Our lawyers recognize that estate planning is a dynamic, lifelong process. We partner with our clients as they experience major life events like marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, new or growing business endeavors, or receiving a substantial gift or inheritance, and help our clients make changes to their estate plan to best serve their needs and meet their goals.

Some of our clients have relatively straightforward needs, while others require more advanced estate and tax planning tools. Regardless of your specific needs, the estate planning attorneys at RKPT have the experience and expertise to help you plan for the future, minimize tax liability, and protect your legacy.

Basic Estate Planning Services

A basic estate plan may include a simple Trust, a Last Will and Testament, a Financial Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney, and a Living Will. An estate planning attorney will compile these documents to ensure that your wishes are carried out as you near the end of your life or lack the capacity to make decisions on your own and allow you to leave a legacy to the people you care about most.

  • A Simple Trust is similar to a Will in that it determines how property should pass upon someone’s death but can also help to avoid probate and minimize the complexity of administering the transfer of property after the death of the grantor, or creator, of the trust.
  • A Will is one of the foundational documents of an estate plan. It identifies broad categories of assets and describes how they will be transferred at the time of your death.
  • A Financial Power of Attorney appoints someone else to make financial and business decisions for you if you are unavailable or lack the capacity to make them yourself.
  • A Healthcare Power of Attorney allows someone else to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.
  • A Living Will can be used to describe your wishes regarding end-of-life treatment that you do or do not wish to receive, and gives you control over decisions made as you near the end of your lifetime.

Complex Estate Planning Services

For more complex estates or families who must address special needs, RKPT offers complex estate planning strategies that may include the creation of a Family Limited Partnership, trust, or private family foundation.

Family Limited Partnership

A Family Limited Partnership (FLP) is a financial arrangement that allows family members to pool assets to operate a business. Each family member buys shares in the business and can take a profit proportionate to the number of shares they own. An FLP can be used to preserve a family business for future generations while sheltering assets and minimizing tax liability.

Complex Trusts

A complex trust is similar to a Will in that it specifies how a person’s property will be transferred; however, a trust offers additional flexibility and is often used to address more complicated estate planning situations.

A trust establishes a fiduciary relationship between the trust-maker (sometimes known as the grantor, settlor, or trustor) and the trustee. The trustee manages assets placed in the trust for the benefit of a third party, known as the beneficiary.

Unlike a Will, which must be reviewed and approved by a probate court, assets placed in a trust remain private.

A trust can also be used to transfer assets while the grantor is still living, while a Will can only be used to transfer assets after the person who wrote the Will has died.

Depending on your needs, a trust can be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust can be changed during the lifetime of the grantor, while an irrevocable trust cannot.

Finally, there are a variety of trusts that can be used to address specific estate planning needs.

Creating a Private Family Foundation as Part of Your Estate Plan

Some of our clients wish to create a Private Family Foundation (PFF) as part of their estate planning strategy. Through a PFF, you can receive a tax deduction for contributions made to the foundation. Contributions to a PFF can also minimize estate and income tax liability and provide continuing employment for family members.

RKPT: Help with Your Estate Planning Needs

The personal planning attorneys at RKPT recognize that everyone can benefit from sound estate planning. Whether you are approaching retirement or need an estate plan to protect and care for your young family, our estate planning attorneys are here to help.

Contact us today to learn more about our estate planning services and for assistance with your planning needs. From our offices in Cincinnati, we serve clients throughout Ohio.

Guardianships and Conservatorships

If a loved one is no longer able to make decisions for themselves, they made need someone to assist them through a guardianship or conservatorship. By establishing a guardianship or conservatorship, you can assist your loved one in making financial, healthcare, and other life decisions.

If you need help establishing a guardianship or conservatorship for an elderly family member, someone who is incapacitated, or a child with special needs who is reaching adulthood, the Ohio guardianship and conservatorship attorneys at RKPT can help.

Our attorneys can explain the options, assist you and your family in making a decision that best suits your needs, and take the necessary steps to implement your wishes.

Ohio Guardianship

A guardian is someone appointed by the probate court to handle financial, healthcare, and/or personal matters on behalf of an incapacitated person, who is called the ward.

Being appointed a guardian is an important responsibility, and it is a position that courts do not grant lightly. Before appointing someone a guardian, the court must first determine that the ward is legally incompetent and cannot manage their affairs alone. Once someone is appointed as a guardian, they have a fiduciary duty to the ward, meaning the guardian has a legal duty to manage the affairs of the ward in a way that is in the best interests of the ward.

Ohio recognizes several different types of guardianship.

  • A Guardian of the Person has physical custody of the ward and makes day-to-day decisions on healthcare and non-financial personal matters on behalf of the ward.
  • A Guardian of the Estate has the ability to make financial decisions on behalf of the ward.
  • A Limited Guardian is only authorized to make decisions in certain areas of the life of the ward.
  • A Guardian of the Person and the Estate is authorized to make personal, financial, and healthcare decisions on behalf of the ward.

Applying to Become a Guardian

If you wish to become someone’s guardian, you must complete a Guardianship Application and file it in the probate court of the county where the proposed ward resides. You, as the applicant, must also submit to both a background check and a credit check, and with limited exception, must complete a 6-hour Fundamentals of Guardianship course that is offered by the Ohio Supreme Court. Once appointed, a guardian must complete three hours of continuing education every year.

As part of the application process, the applicant must also submit a Statement of Expert Evaluation, completed by a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist who has examined the ward and believes that a guardianship is necessary. The probate court will also have an independent court investigator evaluate the ward and separately submit their report to the probate court.

To complete the guardianship process, the court will hold a hearing to determine that the ward is incompetent. The ward’s next of kin must be notified and can either consent to the guardianship, attend the hearing, or waive the right to attend the hearing. If the court does not receive a response from next of kin, the judge will assume there are no objections to the guardianship. Once all interested parties have been notified, the court will hold the guardianship hearing.

To have a guardianship granted, the applicant must show that the proposed ward is unable to care for their own basic needs, property, or others under their care; has a mental impairment or illness or a developmental disability; or is a chronic substance abuser.

During the guardianship hearing, the court will review the application, as well as the medical and investigative reports. The court will also hear testimony from the proposed ward and any next of kin or interested parties. After the hearing, the court will issue an order either granting or denying the guardianship. If the ward or the applicant disagrees with the order, the decision can be appealed.

Ohio Conservatorship

A conservatorship is similar to a guardianship in that the conservator has the power to make decisions on behalf of the ward and must act in the ward’s best interest. The difference is that a conservator is appointed by the probate court at the request of a mentally competent adult who is unable to manage certain aspects of their life. While a Guardianship proceeding is an involuntary process, a conservatorship proceeding is a voluntary one.

Considering Less Restrictive Options

Because a guardianship or a conservatorship will significantly limit the ward’s freedom, courts may consider less restrictive options, such permitting use of a Power of Attorney or a living trust to manage a ward’s assets.

Contact RKPT for Help with Ohio Guardianship and Conservatorship

If you are considering guardianship or conservatorship for a loved one, the attorneys at RKPT can help. Establishing a guardianship or a conservatorship is a complicated process that should not be attempted without the assistance of an attorney.

At RKPT, our lawyers have a wealth of experience assisting families who have members with special needs. With offices in Cincinnati and Blue Ash, we invite you to contact RKPT for more information.

Protection of Assets

At RKPT, our asset protection lawyers have extensive experience helping our clients preserve wealth, protect their assets, and pass on a financial legacy to future generations.

In many cases, estate planning and asset protection go hand in hand as we work to protect our client’s assets and enable them to transfer wealth. By using a sound asset protection strategy, our clients can preserve a financial legacy that can be passed to future generations, rather than being used to pay for long-term care or lost through divorce, bankruptcy, or other potential creditors.

What Is Asset Protection?

Asset protection refers to strategies that protect a person’s wealth from claims by creditors, taxation, long-term care expenses, seizure, forfeiture, or other losses.

Why You Need Asset Protection

A sound estate plan should include tools that preserve wealth by protecting it from “creditors and predators” such as credit card companies, bank foreclosure, a current or former spouse, disgruntled family members, aggressive lawyers, malpractice claimants, and more.

You should consider asset protection as part of your estate plan if:

  • You have a young family and want to protect your spouse and young children in the event of your death, disability, or a downturn in your business.
  • Your business has taken off but you do not have experience handling or protecting substantial assets and you need guidance.
  • Your prior estate plan is out of date and no longer reflects your current situation (perhaps you are recently divorced, your business partnership changed, or your children are now adults).
  • You want to shelter your professional practice more effectively.

The lawyers at RKPT can create a customized plan that includes asset protection strategies that will take into account your objectives and concerns, the nature of your assets, and the types of financial exposure you might face.

Common Asset Protection Strategies

While every situation is unique, there are common strategies estate planning lawyers use to protect client assets. These include:

Domestic Asset Protection Trust (DAPT)

Ohio is one of seventeen states that allow a Domestic Asset Protection Trust (DAPT). A DAPT is a type of irrevocable trust that allows the trust creator to be a beneficiary of the trust while still protecting trust assets from creditors.

Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

An LLC can prevent creditors from taking assets that have been placed inside the LLC structure. In some situations, it may be wise to create multiple LLCs so that a lawsuit against you or one of your LLCs does not result in the loss of all your assets.

Asset Transfer

If you are sued or are personally responsible for a debt, any assets in your name could be vulnerable. By creating another entity to hold your assets, such as a trust, an LLC, or a holding company, you retain control of the assets but make them much more difficult for a creditor to access. You can also structure the terms of the trust, LLC, or holding company so assets pass to your beneficiaries upon your death.

RKPT Provides Assistance with Estate Planning, Asset Protection, and Wealth Transfer

If you have questions about protecting your assets from creditors, taxation, seizure, forfeiture, or other losses, talk to one of our lawyers who have extensive experience implementing asset protection strategies.

The lawyers at RKPT can provide advice on various asset protection strategies and how they fit into your estate plan. We can design a customized strategy that will preserve and protect your assets so you can pass them on to future generations.

With offices in Cincinnati and Blue Ash, we represent people throughout Ohio and across the country. Contact RKPT for more information and to learn how we can help.

Trust and Estate Administration

The trust and estate administration attorneys at RKPT guide family members, trustees, heirs, beneficiaries, and estate executors and administrators through the process of distributing a deceased person’s assets after a loved one dies.

Probate estate administration is the process by which the probate court reviews and approves a person’s Last Will and Testament and oversees distribution of the assets held in the deceased person’s name alone after their death. Assets held by the deceased person without effective beneficiary designations must pass through probate, regardless of whether the person died with or without a Will.

When a person has used a trust as part of their estate plan, assets can be titled in the trust or transferred to the trust by beneficiary designations. Trust assets do not pass through probate court; however, the trust must still be administered. Trust administration is a private process by which trust assets are transferred according to the terms of the trust after the death of the trust-maker.

Common Terms in Estate Administration

Probate and trust administration can seem complicated, partly because of the specialized terms used. To better understand the estate administration process, it is helpful to clarify what common estate administration means.

  • The decedent is the person who died
  • An estate refers to the decedent’s property
  • Testate means the decedent died with a Will
  • Intestate means the decedent died without a Will
  • Heirs are the people who receive property when a person dies without a Will
  • Beneficiaries are the people who are designated to receive property in a person’s Will
  • The Executor is the person named in a Will who oversees distribution of estate assets
  • An Administrator is a person who is appointed to manage an estate when a decedent died without a Will

What To Expect in Probate Court

Probate begins by appointing an estate administrator or executor. The estate representative will take an inventory of the deceased person’s property and notify heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors of the person’s death. The estate representative will file an accounting with the probate court, pay debts and estate taxes, and distribute the remaining property according to the terms of the person’s Will or, if the person died without a Will, according to the laws of intestacy.

Trust Administration

Trust administration is similar to probate administration in that it is the process by which assets are transferred after someone has died. However, trusts are commonly used precisely because distribution of assets placed in the trust does not require probate court oversight or approval and is generally more efficient and less costly.

When a person makes a trust, the trustee holds trust assets for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries. When the trust-maker dies, the trustee distributes trust assets according to the terms of the trust.

The trust administrator will

  • Take and maintain an inventory of trust assets
  • Notify heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors of the death of the trust-maker
  • Collect money owed to the trust
  • Pay debts and taxes of the trust
  • Value trust property and the expense of trust administration
  • Prepare an accounting of trust activities
  • Distribute assets to trust beneficiaries

RKPT Can Help with Trust and Probate Estate Administration

Trust and estate administration can be a complicated and time-consuming process. The trust and estate administration lawyers at RKPT can help ensure that the estate is administered correctly under applicable laws.

Our lawyers will guide you through the probate or trust administration process and can handle much of the work for you. We provide peace of mind by ensuring your loved one’s estate will be handled the right way. Our lawyers have decades of experience administering trusts and estates and will save you time and money by knowing which forms need to be filed, where to file them, and how to submit them.

After the loss of a loved one, let us shoulder the burden of estate and probate administration so you can spend time with your family. Regardless of the size or complexity of the estate, we strive to deliver smart and creative solutions in an efficient, meaningful way.

Based in Cincinnati, we serve clients throughout the Midwest and Florida and are dedicated to helping our clients navigate the loss of a loved one.

We invite you to contact RKPT or call us at (513) 721-3330 for more information about our Personal Planning practice.

We also oversee guardianships and conservatorships to ensure they are properly administered.

For more information on our Personal Planning practice, we welcome you to contact RKPT.