The Ritter & Randolph, LLC Blog

Beneficiary Designations

Justin T. Precht, Esq.We generally recommend that our clients review their estate planning documents at least every three years, but major life events – births, adoptions, disabilities, deaths, marriages, divorces and moving – should also trigger a review and update of your estate planning documents. We also strongly recommend a periodic review of beneficiary designations.

Beneficiary designations are a crucial part of the estate planning process, though often overlooked, because they take precedence over the conflicting terms of a will or trust agreement and pass outside of probate.

Many clients also find that a significant portion of their wealth will pass at death by beneficiary designation. Common examples include life insurance, retirement plans, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), bank accounts and annuities. In Ohio, an individual may even transfer real estate at death pursuant to a Transfer-on-Death Designation Affidavit. For most people, these examples represent the majority of their total overall assets.

It is important to realize that while beneficiary designations are a valuable tool, they must be considered as one part of the overall estate plan. We strongly advise that when clients review their estate planning documents, they also review and update their beneficiary designations to ensure their assets are properly passed on.

New Rules for Adult Guardianships in Ohio

Justin T. Precht, Esq.The Ohio Supreme Court issued new rules for adult guardianships in Ohio that went into effect June 1, 2015.

Among other changes, individuals interested in serving as guardians of adult wards are now required to take a one-time, six-hour course on the fundamentals of adult guardianship and must complete three hours of annual continuing education thereafter.

Probate courts in surrounding counties – Hamilton, Warren, Clermont and Butler – have implemented different approaches to the education requirements, outlined below.

Hamilton County has established an exemption from the fundamentals and continuing education requirements at Local Rule 66.1(H) where the guardian is related to the adult ward by blood or marriage. Warren County also has an exemption where the guardian is related by blood or marriage at Local Rule 17(F) and (G).

Clermont County and Butler County have not established any such exemption from the education requirements. In those counties, guardians appointed after June 1, 2015 have six months from their date of appointment to complete the fundamentals course, while guardians already serving on June 1, 2015, or who served as a guardian during the five years immediately preceding that date, have until June 1, 2016.