Ohio parents often distribute their assets to children through their estate plans, but everyone, including childless or single people, has much to gain from making these final arrangements. All people have a right to declare formally how their money and possessions will be treated upon their death. People without close relatives who do not prepare a will or shift assets into a trust could likely have their estates distributed by a probate court under the state law of intestacy to distant relatives who they might not even know.

To retain control and curtail attempts by distant relatives to complicate a probate review of a deceased person’s estate, a person could set up a trust. Assets that do not have beneficiary designations could be shifted into a trust that specifies how to distribute assets upon death. Heirs could include friends, living parents, a surviving spouse or a charity. Large donations to charities should involve contacting the organization while forming the plan to ensure that the charity can use the funds according to the benefactor’s wishes. People can manage their own trusts while alive, but they must take care to select a capable and responsible successor trustee.

Aside from death, the possibility of physical or mental incapacity due to illness or injury makes an estate plan a priority for all people. A durable power of attorney or advance health care directive could provide substantial guidance if people lose the ability to make decisions or manage their own affairs.

Legal support during the estate planning process could introduce a person to useful strategies and suggestions. An attorney could inform a person about taxation issues and offer advice about how to choose a trustee. While drafting the language for the necessary documents, an attorney could strive to make the terms strong enough to withstand potential legal challenges.