Estate Planning

Practice Areas
Estate Planning

Estate Planning Process in Ohio

1. Assign a Health Care Agent

A health care agent works on the estate owner’s behalf, representing their best interests. They communicate the individual’s medical wishes when they are unable to make sound decisions. To select a Health Care agent, one must complete a Power of Attorney document, which grants the appointed individual to make decisions regarding life support, resuscitation, and other treatments intended to prolong life.

2. Name a Financial Agent

The principal will also need to appoint a financial agent, who serves to maintain the finances in the case that the individual becomes incapacitated. The Durable Power of Attorney designates powers that indicate who will be in charge of the financial decisions, which include:

  • Real property
  • Personal property
  • Stocks and Bonds
  • Banks
  • Estates, trusts, and other
  • Operation of business or entity
  • And more.

The agent’s duties typically include paying bills, managing business transactions, handling real property, and supervising financial accounts. In order to name a financial agent, the principal must complete the Durable Power of Attorney form and sign it alongside a notary public.

3. Inventory Current Assets

Before drafting a Will or Living Trust, the principal should compile a list of all of the assets in their estate. A description of the principal’s real estate, insurance plans, vehicles, domestic property, financial accounts, and other assets under their possession should be included in the report. The primary can utilize the Current Assets List for this purpose, and once completed, incorporate it with their estate planning paperwork.

4. Identify Beneficiaries

The principle must then name the beneficiaries of their assets. Following the death of the principle, these people are known as “beneficiaries,” and they will inherit specified property. The principal’s spouse, children, siblings, or other close family members are usually the beneficiaries. If none of these people are accessible, the principle can leave their assets to a charity or a close friend.

5. Formalize Estate Distribution Plan

Once assets have been analyzed, the principal will need to generate a document that outlines how their assets will be distributed upon their death. The document identifies the beneficiaries and the assets they are entitled to. Documents that apply to these circumstances include:

  • Last Will and Testament: In this document, the principal nominates beneficiaries and lists how assets will be distributed. Upon their death, the Will goes through probate, which involves a court assessment before distributing the assets. This process typically lasts several months and may involve additional costs by the executor of the estate.
  • Living Trust: This document grants an entity that can receive ownership of the principal’s assets. It allows the principle to manage their benefits and trust until their death while describing the assets that each beneficiary can inherit. Unlike a Last Will and Testament, however, a Living Trust does not go through probate. As a result, the estate can immediately be distributed without the court’s supervision.

6. Secure and Update Estate Documents

Finally, the estate documents must be placed in a secure, accessible location in the case of an emergency or after the principal’s death. The appointed agents may keep the original copies of the Power of Attorney documents, while the principal’s attorney, spouse, or children should retain the Last Will and testament. The principal may also decide to have the documents reviewed by an attorney.

Estate planning sometimes involves unexpected challenges. The better you understand the process, the more prepared you will be to navigate legal obstacles. Our attorneys are here to explain the estate planning process.

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