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Estate Planning

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Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process of preparing for end-of-life issues, planning for what will happen after your death, and taking control over your legacy during and after your life. Estate planning is about much more than simply creating a will. It's also not something that is an exclusive concern of the elderly. If you have assets to protect, family to provide for, or concerns about what will happen to you if you become disabled, seriously injured, or sick, you should make an estate plan.

 

Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust is a method of avoiding the probate process.  If the trust owns the assets, no Court is involved in the transfer of assets upon death.  Therefore, no newspaper notices or letters to heirs are required, no records become public, and no statutory waiting periods apply.  Properly used, revocable living trusts are a highly effective estate planning tool.  Some of the advantages of executing a revocable living trust as part of your estate plan include:

  • Avoid the probate of estate assets, thus saving time and money.

  • Avoids the requirement of public notices and keeps your plan of distribution private.

  • Allows a family member or other individual to manage assets if you become unable to do so due to health issues.

  • Aids in organizing assets for effective financial planning.

  • Permits optimum tax planning using federal and estate income, gift and estate tax law.

  • Allows you to maintain total and complete control over your assets during your lifetime.

 

IRRevocable TrustS

A irrevocable trust is an extremely important estate planning tool.  Often times people wish to preserve and protect their assets in the event they would be in need of governmental assistance to pay for their care in the future through Medicaid of a similar program. An irrevocable trust is ideal for this type of planning goal. This planning technique requires transferring ownership of assets to the irrevocable trust. There is no need to transfer all assets to the irrevocable trust. Rather, your simply transfer the assets you wish to protect such as your home or a certain amount of cash assets. This type of planning has numerous advantages over simply gifting your assets to your children or other individuals. Some advantages of the use of an irrevocable trust include:

  • Protecting assets while attempting to qualify for Medicaid or VA benefits.

  • Avoids the problems associated with an outright gift of assets including the possibility that the gift recipient may die before you; file for bankruptcy or suffer a similar financial setback; become divorced; or potentially spend or use the gifted assets improperly.

  • Avoid the probate of estate assets, thus saving time and money.

  • Avoids the requirement of public notices and keeps your plan of distribution private.

  • Aids in organizing assets for effective financial planning.

  • Permits optimum tax planning using federal and estate income, gift and estate tax law.

 

Last Will and Testament

This is a legal document that communicates a person's final wishes, as pertaining to possessions and dependents. A person's Last Will and Testament will outline what to do with possessions, whether they are being left to another person, group or donated to charity, and what will happen to other things for which they are responsible, such as custody of dependents and accounts and interests management.  A Will is written while a person is alive and carried out once they've passed away. In the Will, a still-living person is named as the executor of the estate, and that person is responsible for administering the estate and is usually supervised by the probate court to ensure that what is specified in the Will is carried out. 

 

Financial Power of Attorney

This is one of the most important estate planning documents you can have.  A financial power of attorney gives another person the power and ability to act in your place with respect to your financial affairs if you are unable to do so yourself.  This can include the payments of bills, transfer or gifting of assets, cashing checks, or dealing with various governmental agencies. Powers of attorney terminate upon the disability or incapacity of the principal unless the power of attorney is durable.  Powers of attorney terminate upon the death of the principal.

 

Power of Attorney for Health Care

A Health Care Power of Attorney is a legal document that authorizes another person to make health care decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. A Health Care Power of Attorney: 

  • Names an individual you trust to make a wide variety of health care decisions for you at any time you cannot do so for yourself, whether or not your condition is terminal.

  • Becomes effective only when you cannot make your own decisions regarding treatment.

  • Requires the person you appoint to make decisions that are consistent with your wishes.

  • Will not overrule a living will if you have both documents.

 

Living Will

A Living Will is a legal document you can use to express your wishes about the use of life-sustaining treatment if you should become terminally ill or permanently unconscious. A Living Will: 

  • Becomes effective only when you cannot communicate your wishes and are permanently unconscious or terminally ill.

  • Advises your doctor as to whether life-support technology is to be used or not used.

  • Gives doctors the direction or instructions about the medical treatment you want under these conditions.

  • Can be changed or revoked by you at any time, but cannot be changed or revoked by anyone else.

  • Will be followed for a pregnant woman only if certain conditions apply.

  • Specifies under what conditions you would want artificial feeding and fluids to be withheld.

 

HIPPA Authorization

A HIPPA Authorization authorizes health care providers to release your health care information and medical records to those designated in the HIPPA form.  HIPPA refers to the Health Insurance Portability ad Accountability Act of 1996.  The Act requires hospitals, physicians, and other health care provides to take certain measures to protect patient information from unauthorized disclosure.  The sample HIPPA below is tied to your DPAHC or Revocable Living Trust.

 

Bodily Disposition and Funeral Arrangements

Ohio law permits you to express your wishes regarding the disposition of your final remains and your funeral arrangements.  

 

Organ Donation

Ohio maintains a list of donors who wish to be registered as organ donors.  You can also express your wish to be an organ donor in your Living Will, and you can register as an organ donor at the time you renew your driver's license.