What is Estate Planning?
Estate Planning relates to the act of making an plan in advance of death or in advance of becoming incapacitated.
Believe it or not, you have an estate. In fact, nearly everyone does. Your estate is comprised of everything you own— your car, home, other real estates, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions and planning for the point in time when you, unfortunately, pass away is one concept of estate planning. Having a Will or Trust in place will prevent your assets from being distributed according to the probate laws in your state, and rather your assets will be distributed how you wished.
The other aspect of Estate Planning relates to documents that can protect you when you potentially become incapacitated, in particular, three documents should be in place to care for you during your lifetime: Durable Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will.
Read more about each specific document below.
A Will is a document that identifies you and allows you to direct the distribution of your assets through the Executor of your choice. The Executor is responsible for collecting your assets, paying your final bills, and distributing your estate as you have indicated. Generally, Wills are simple 4-5 page documents. In certain circumstances, such as couples with small children, a Will may contain the terms of a trust to be created at death in the event both parents pass away.
Living Will is the document, also written by the State, wherein you express your desire to receive comfort care only and do not want to be maintained on life support, in the event you are deemed permanently unconscious and in a terminal condition. The persons named on these documents are authorized to make life and death decisions for you.
Trusts are private contractual documents between the person creating the trust (Grantor) and the chosen Trustee. Revocable Trusts generally provide that the Grantor and Trustee are the same person, thereby allowing the Grantor to retain control of their assets. There are many types of trusts used for different purposes. Our office will guide you to the type of document which will accomplish your estate planning goals based upon your particular circumstances.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney
Durable Financial Power of Attorney is the document that grants the named person the power to conduct business on your behalf should you become incapacitated. A Durable Power of Attorney avoids the need for guardianship but is a compelling document. Careful consideration should be exercised when granting Power of Attorney to someone.
Health Care Power of Attorney
Health Care Power of Attorney is a document created by the Ohio Legislature, which indicates who you authorize to give and receive information regarding your medical condition. With the passage of HIPAA (the Privacy Act), this document is necessary for the free flow of medical information to your loved ones in an emergency.
Why is Estate Planning Important?
A lot of people put off state planning because they don’t think it’s necessary; however, it’s essential to plan as early as possible and then make changes or adjustments as life changes. The last thing you want in life for your family is to make the saddening event of your passing or incapacitation more challenging because you delayed your estate preparation. Many people don’t prepare early for numerous reasons; they think they don’t own enough, they aren’t old enough, they’re busy, think they have plenty of time, they are confused and don’t know who can help them, or they don’t want to believe it. Don’t make the mistake of not planning and make sure you protect your life work and assets.
Meet with one of our attorneys today, and allow us to make the process as easy as possible so you never have to worry.
Victoria E. Schafer
George O. Aljoe
Ellen P. Linz
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