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What are the basics of estate planning?

We can't help but think about the future. While it is not always clear what the future might hold for individuals in Ohio and elsewhere, it is possible to gain assurance and comfort in knowing what might happen after you pass. Although it is unpleasant to think about death, it is a reality everyone faces. Thus, it is important to take steps to protect your financial future. An estate plan can help outline your wishes and ensure they are met.

What are the basics of estate planning? To begin, it is important to understand that an estate plan is more than just drafting a will. Although a will is an important document that serves a vital role, it is not the only important document in an estate plan. Depending on your overall goals, an estate plan can look rather complex. However, an estate plan should be used to serve your wishes and meet realistic future expectations and goals.

An estate plan could include a power of attorney. There are two types and include a springing power of attorney and a durable power of attorney. The first type only goes into effect if a certain event occurs, such as incapacitation. A durable power of attorney goes into effect immediately and does not require one to become incapacitated.

Another thing to consider when drafting an estate plan are your assets. These need to be assessed and valued. Additionally, you need to determine how you want to pass these assets on. Whether it is through will or trust, you need to determine how to effectively pass your assets onto you heirs. If you decide to include a trust, it is important to understand what type of trust you need. And depending on your goals and the type of assets placed in it, one might need to include more than one trust.

No matter how detailed or simple you make your estate plan, it is important that you understand the terms, details and content of the documents contained within the estate plan. Additionally, it is also imperative to keep modifying and updating your estate plan as life changes occur. Those unsure what to do regarding their current estate plan or how to begin the drafting process should seek legal guidance about their options and rights.

Source: Theoaklandpress.com, "The basics of estate planning," Aug. 13, 2017

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