Estate planning should be tailored to each person's individual circumstances and needs. Every adult should minimally have a basic estate plan in place. This consists of a Will or Trust to document a person's wishes as to how their property is to be distributed and who they want to handle their estate, and importantly, documents to provide powers to a trusted agent to assist the person in any times of incapacity during his or her lifetime. These documents allow the designated agent to provide assistance with financial and/or personal and medical matters based upon the person's wishes if a short or long term incapacity arises.
The primary purpose of a Will is to direct the disposition of any assets owned solely by testator upon his or her passing. Many younger families feel they do not need to do estate planning, although a will is very important for younger parents with minor children to ensure their children will be cared for by the persons they want as guardians in the event of their incapacity or death. A will can help alleviate family disagreements over property. It can also facilitate a smoother, more efficient and less costly probate process as Executor powers are defined and bond can be waived if desired.
A Power of Attorney (POA) documents a person’s wishes concerning who they want to serve as their agent(s) to handle their financial affairs, and what powers they want their agent(s) to have. Most POA's are durable, meaning they continue during any period of incapacity, but there are also Limited POA's that limit the agent's powers to act to specific, limited situation.
Advance Medical Directives document a person's wishes concerning who they want to serve as their agent to handle medical decisions if they are unable to do so,n person's wishes concerning end-of-life wishes. Minimally, a person should consider having a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will. These health care directives allow your chosen agent to step in only when you are unable to make your own health care decisions.
Revocable Living Trusts may be appropriate in some situations, such as to provide individualized planning for a grantors spouse and children often in the case of blended families, or to provide for children who may have creditor or spendthrift issues.
They may be helpful to provide privacy in estate planning. They can further be helpful when a testator wants to have control on timing of inheritance, etc.
Other directives may be wise based on individual circumstances. For instance, a declaration for Funeral Arrangements/ Disposition of Bodily Remains documents a person’s wishes concerning who they want to serve as their agent(s) for funeral arrangements, services, and final disposition. This may be helpful to prevent issues if there is potential disagreement as to final arrangements.
Attorney Deanna Durbin of the Akron, Ohio, law firm of Durbin Law Office, LLC, provides probate, estate planning, and trust and estate administration legal services in the cities of Akron, Bath, Richfield, Fairlawn, Copley, Norton, Wadsworth, Medina, Doylestown, Cuyahoga Falls, Stow, Tallmadge, Munroe Falls, Hudson, and surrounding Summit, Stark & Medina County areas.
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