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Essential Components of Estate Planning

Don’t Forget to Include These Components

Planning your estate is an important part of preparing for an uncertain future. When putting together your estate plan, there are certain items you may want to include. The right attorney can help you craft your estate plan to not only include these elements but also to ensure that the below items are included to meet the needs of both you and your family.

Here are a few crucial parts of an estate plan that you will want to consider with your attorney.

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament, often referred to as a will, might be what you think of most when you hear the phrase, “estate planning.” A will outlines how you wish for your assets to be distributed to your named beneficiaries upon your passing. Within a will, you can also name an individual as your executor, the person responsible for paying your debts and distributing your assets through probate. There are many additional possibilities with a will, including naming a guardian for your children.

If you die without having a will in place, then your estate becomes “intestate.” This means that your assets will be distributed according to Ohio law. This could result in a different asset distribution than you would have otherwise chosen.

You may wish to substitute your will with a living trust or include a trust in addition to your will. A trust works similar to a will in that it outlines how assets will be distributed upon a person’s passing; however, one of the key differences is that a trust does not pass through probate, often making the process easier for your family and maintaining privacy. A trust can also hold funds for a beneficiary who is not old enough to manage them or even include provisions for a pet. For more information about trusts and wills, check out our December 2021 blog post titled “Wills v. Trusts – Which Is For Me?”

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is often referred to by many names, including a “financial power of attorney” or simply a “power of attorney.” A power of attorney provides the ability to manage your finances and other important assets should you, as the estate’s creator, become incapacitated such that you are unable to make decisions on your own. A durable power of attorney authorizes an individual to perform actions like paying bills and/or allows an individual to take care of other important financial matters on your behalf.

Powers of attorney are important to include in an estate plan, as your family could have an extremely difficult time (and experience additional stress) trying to access important financial resources without this provision included.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

Also known as an “advanced healthcare directive,” this provision works similar to a financial power of attorney in that a named party is given the ability to make important decisions; however, just as this provision’s name implies, with a healthcare power of attorney, the named party is given the ability to determine medical care if you are unable to speak or make decisions because of a debilitating medical condition. The named party can determine how best to direct medical personnel to care for you, should you become unable to communicate your wishes. Having powers of attorney in place can prevent the family from needing to file time-consuming and expensive guardianship proceedings.

Living Will

A living will acts very differently from a last will and testament. A living will serves to outline your wishes in the event you face end-of-life care, including your preferences for life support. This can also serve to memorialize how arrangements for your body after you have passed.

Other Items

In addition to the topics discussed above, there are many other provisions that you may wish to include in your estate plan. For example, you may want to include beneficiary designations, which signal how to transfer financial resources after your passing, such as bank accounts and retirement accounts, similar to a designation of a beneficiary on a life insurance policy.

Be sure to speak with your attorney to learn what other items you can include in your estate plan.

Craft an Estate Plan With Your Attorney

Working with an attorney who understands estate planning is important to ensure that your wishes are carried out how you want them. At Laubacher & Co., we know how important it is to plan for the future. We will work with you to ensure that your wishes are carried out and that your family is taken care of even after you’ve passed.

Learn more about estate planning in Ohio by calling us at (440) 336-8687 or by visiting our website.