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Effective Planning For Any Kind Of Estate

A common misconception is that you need to be wealthy or have a significant amount of possessions to need or have an estate plan. In fact, estate planning is for everyone, regardless of the size or composition of the estate. Everyone deserves the peace of mind of knowing that their wishes will be carried out and that their loved ones are protected even after they have passed away. I am committed to ensuring that each client understands the facets of the estate planning process and that each document properly prepares for and effectively implements the desired outcomes. The common documents utilized in the estate planning process are: a Will/Last Will and Testament, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Living Wills. 

Wills vs. Trusts

The two most commonly used documents for estate planning are a Last Will and Testament and a Trust. Both afford an effective ability to dictate how assets are to pass to one's beneficiaries. 

A Will or Last Will and Testament is a legal document that expresses a person's wishes as to how their property is to be distributed after their death and nominates a person to manage the property until the final distribution. The Will governs property that does not have a listed beneficiary, is not designated as Transferable on Death (TOD), or is not held as Joint and Survivor, which means that there is more than one owner and ownership passes immediately upon the death of one owner to the other(s) equally. Any property governed by a Will is subject to the discretion of the Probate Court and will be required to go through the probate administration process prior to distribution. 

A Trust is an estate planning tool in which a grantor/settlor entitles another party, the trustee, to hold title to property or assets owned by the grantor/settlor for the benefit of a third party, the beneficiary. There are several different types of Trusts that can be used for a wide variety of purposes to achieve specific goals when it comes to the distribution to beneficiaries. They afford the grantor/settlor more choices and discretion on how their estate is distributed both while living and after death. 

Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, and HIPAA Releases

There are two types of Powers of Attorney (POAs):

Financial Power of Attorney - A legal document created by one party, the Principal, granting another trusted party, the Agent, the authority to act on behalf of the Principal in financial matters. This is also referred to as a General Power of Attorney or a General Durable Power of Attorney. 

Healthcare Power of Attorney - A legal document created by one party, the Principal, granting another trusted party, the Agent, the authority to act on behalf of or make decisions for the Principal in medical or health-care matters. This is also referred to as an Advanced Healthcare Directive when included in the same document as the Living Will. However, be aware that Ohio requires that these two documents be two separate documents. 

A Living Will is a legal document which dictates a person's desires regarding their medical treatment that they would or would not want to be used to keep them alive, as well as other medical decisions such as pain management and organ donation. 

A HIPAA Release is another directive utilized in conjunction with the Healthcare Power of Attorney which allows the Agent to receive medical records and information from medical professionals on the care of the Principal.