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Tips for creating an estate plan

Ideally, Ohio residents will begin the process of estate planning as soon as possible. An estate is made up of anything that a person owns either jointly or on his or her own. By creating an estate plan while in good health, it may make it easier to obviate the need for a conservatorship or guardianship. Anyone 18 or older may benefit from starting the estate plan process.

Wills and trusts are common components of an estate plan. They provide instructions as to how assets should be handled after a person dies. If a person doesn't have a will, state intestacy laws may come into play. This could result in assets being given to unintended beneficiaries. In some cases, property could be given to the state if there are no surviving family members. Only those who don't own significant property or who want to give assets to their children may be able to get by without a will or trust.

An estate plan should also have both a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy. The durable power of attorney allows a designated individual or entity to make financial decisions on that person's behalf. Without such a document, a person may be appointed to manage an incapacitated individual's finances regardless of the appointee's ability to do so properly.

Creating an estate plan may provide individuals with many benefits. For instance, creating a trust may make it possible to avoid going through probate. Making beneficiary designations may also help assets to avoid probate. Including powers of attorney may allow those who are incapacitated to have medical and financial decisions made in ways that respects their wishes. An attorney can often help create or review plan documents.

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