Ohio residents are sometimes reluctant to address estate planning issues because it can be difficult for them to contemplate their death. Another issue is the dizzying array of documents involved. Dealing with wills, trusts and powers of attorney can seem daunting to those unfamiliar with legal documents, but tackling these issues head-on ensures that loved ones will be provided for and can provide peace of mind.

One way to approach estate planning is to think of the beneficiaries who will be taken care of rather than the assets involved. A straightforward way to begin an estate plan is to draft a will and check the beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and insurance policies. Last wills and testaments are especially useful for parents as they can establish who will be appointed the guardian of their children if they should die. It is also a good idea to revisit these documents regularly or, at the very least, after a major life event like a divorce.

Estate planning documents known as directives can provide valuable guidance to loved ones when their drafters become incapacitated. Living wills allow individuals to let doctors and family members know what kind of medical treatment they wish to receive and when that treatment should be terminated, and health care proxies appoint a trusted person to make these decisions on their behalf. Powers of attorneys also authorize trusted individuals to make financial and other decisions.

Attorneys with experience in this area could explain the benefits of adding trusts to an estate plan. Trusts give individuals far more control over when and how their assets will be distributed after they die, and they can provide protection against creditors while they are still alive. Placing assets into trusts could also avoid probate, which can often be a lengthy and expensive process.