Planning with Care

Getting ahead of tough situations now can mean money saved and less stress later for loved ones.

Though not the most pleasant of tasks, estate and incapacity planning are key to sidestepping future family drama, frustration, heartache and expensive court proceedings. Plus, there’s relief in knowing there won’t be any surprises when tough situations arise.

When attorney Nancy Wagner of Wagner Law, LLC, started her own practice after working for other large firms, her aim was to lead with compassion. “I'm not just preparing documents. My practice is about value-added, compassionate representation. Sometimes clients can’t come to me, so I go to them,” says Nancy. “I love that I get to help people in my community.”

Nancy shares a few estate and incapacity planning basics, including some aspects that are often overlooked or misunderstood. 

Incapacity Planning

“People often think of wills first, but many forget to consider what happens if you’re injured or ill and can’t speak for yourself,” Nancy says. If you’d rather decide who you trust to make healthcare decisions for you, how you feel about feeding tubes and who will handle your finances and property, make those plans yourself so nothing is left to chance. Without incapacity plans, guardianship may be needed, which is a stressful process.


When someone passes away leaving an asset that has no joint account holder, no beneficiary designated, and no proper documents to spell out their wishes, it becomes a probate asset. The probate court decides what happens to those assets. “Legal fees in Warren County for probate are generally 2-5% of the value of an asset. If that’s a $300,000 home, those fees get expensive,” Nancy points out. 

Blended Family Estate Planning

For blended families, discussions and decisions about assets are crucial. Nancy is a mom to twins at Mason High School and her fiance has children of his own, so this is familiar territory for her. “Without plans for how property will be divided, the court will go by the law of intestate succession, or the next-of-kin law. That gets very complicated in a blended family,” she says.

College-Aged Young Adults and HIPPA

Most parents don’t think of incapacity planning for their children, but when your child turns 18, they’re a legal adult with new rights. Nancy explains, “With HIPAA, if your kid goes off to college and gets in an accident or is seriously ill, it may be hard to get information about their condition, including which hospital they were taken to.”

Write a Simple List

Keep a basic list of accounts, contacts, and information in a safe place and tell your loved ones where it is. Think insurance agents, banking, IRAs and anything else they will need to know. 

Avoid Probate, Save Money

In Ohio, using a Transfer On Death Designation Affidavit (TOD) passes real estate to the listed beneficiary upon death instead of going through probate.

Be Aware of Changing Laws 

The 2019 Secure Act changed the rules around IRA money inherited from a parent. Before, children could grow those accounts tax-free indefinitely. Now, a full distribution within 10 years is required. 

Wagner Law, LLC

9435 Waterstone Blvd #140, Cincinnati

513.336.7200 | WagnerLawCares.com

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