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Estate planning: What are the basic options?

There's one thing all Ohio residents have in common; in fact, all people, everywhere, share a common factor, which is that no one lives forever. That said, you might count yourself among those who don't like to think or talk about that fact. Discussing mortality or the possibility that you could one day become incapacitated might make you feel nervous or stressed.

You are definitely not alone in your struggle. However, rather than avoid estate planning for such reasons, you might want to consider the fact that many people find that going through the process of executing an estate plan gives them peace of mind. They devise a plan and worry less about the what-ifs in life. This post provides a brief review of the most common types of estate planning documents, so that you already have a basic understanding of your options when you're ready to create a plan.

You can customize a plan to fit your needs

This is one of the greatest benefits of the estate planning process. You can tailor it to help you accomplish your own goals. Rather than being one way to develop a plan, you have many options and can pick and choose which documents to incorporate and which to leave out. The following list shows the documents most Ohio residents use:

  • Especially if you're a parent, you may want to include a last will and testament in your estate plan. This is the document with which most people are at least somewhat familiar, which provides detailed instructions regarding how you want your assets distributed when the time comes to administer your estate.
  • A living will, on the other hand, isn't about the property you own; it's about you and what type of life-saving medical procedures you want or don't want if you suffer terminal illness or become unresponsive due to a health condition.
  • An advance medical directive allows you to designate someone you trust as a medical power of attorney to make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated and unable to do so.
  • A financial power of attorney also designates someone to act in your place but with regard to financial decisions rather than medical issues.
  • There are also several types of trusts, including those that are revocable and that one can change or remove, as well as those that are irrevocable, meaning permanent. Most people use revocable trusts to keep assets from being subject to probate when they die.
  • Legal guardianship is an issue you'll likely want to consider if you have children of minor age. Knowing that you yourself have chosen who will care for them if you die or can no longer do so due to medical incapacitation can help alleviate many worries and fears that parents often have.

You do not have to include all these documents in your estate plan. There are also other issues you may want to address not mentioned here. Another benefit of estate planning is you can (and should) periodically review your plan and update or change it, as needed. Most estate owners ask attorneys who are well-versed in estate planning and probate laws to provide them guidance and support throughout the entire process.

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Kroener Hale Law Firm
101 N. Riverside Dr.
Batavia, OH 45103

Phone: 513-716-5940
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With offices in Batavia, Cincinnati and West Chester, Ohio we serve clients throughout Clermont and Hamilton Counties