Having an estate plan that consists of just a will is one mistake Ohio residents should avoid. There are multiple documents that should be in place to ensure that medical decisions made on people's behalf if they become incapacitated are in accordance with their wishes and that their assets are protected and managed well after they die. Typical legal documents that are part of a complete estate plan can include advanced health directives and powers of attorney in addition to a will.
If these documents have not been included in their estate plans, people who become unexpectedly incapacitated and unable to make decisions on their own may be at the mercy of individuals who would not have been their ideal choice to see to their interests. It can also result in steps being taken regarding their health that may be against their wishes.
A common excuse people give for not executing their estate plan documents is that there is no rush. However, the documents are usually needed when something unexpected occurs, like a sudden health crisis, such as a heart attack. Once the event takes place, it's too late to execute the documents.
The need for legal documents also arises when an individual is unaware that his or her health is in jeopardy or is in denial about his or her situation. Significant damage will have been done to the person's estate, and the individual will no longer have the legal ability to have the documents executed by the time someone close to him or her is aware of the issue and takes action to intervene.
An attorney who provides estate planning services may advise clients about how certain legal documents can preserve their assets and ensure that their wishes are adhered to if they become incapacitated. A lawyer may recommend certain types of wills and powers of attorney.