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When it comes to securing the financial future of your loved ones, the importance of wills, trusts, and comprehensive estate planning cannot be overstated. The seasoned estate planning attorney at Lewis Legal Solutions has over a decade of experience guiding individuals and families through this crucial process.

We aim to demystify estate planning and ensure that you have a clear understanding of the essential documents, strategies, and Ohio-specific regulations. With professional guidance from Lewis Legal Solutions, you can embark on the path of safeguarding your legacy with confidence and peace of mind.

What is Included in an Estate?

An estate encompasses all the assets, possessions, and properties an individual owns at the time of their passing. It comprises tangible assets such as real estate, vehicles, jewelry, and personal belongings and intangible assets like bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, and intellectual property.

Additionally, the estate may encompass life insurance policies and proceeds, business interests, and digital assets like online accounts and cryptocurrencies. Properly understanding the components of an estate is vital in creating a comprehensive estate plan, and an experienced Ohio wills and trust attorney can help you identify all your assets.

Essential Estate Planning Documents

A thorough estate plan is comprised of several essential documents designed to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are carried out. These documents encompass various aspects of your life, including financial matters, healthcare decisions, and the distribution of your estate. Each plays a vital role in crafting a comprehensive estate plan tailored to your unique needs.

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament, or simply a will, is a fundamental estate planning document that allows you to dictate how your assets will be distributed after your passing. This document designates beneficiaries, including loved ones and charities, and appoints an executor to oversee the proper distribution of assets according to the will.

Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust allows you to place any or all of your assets into a trust during your lifetime. Revocable living trusts are an effective estate planning tool that can be amended or revoked during your lifetime. Using a revocable living trust allows assets to bypass probate, allowing for faster and more private distribution to beneficiaries, which keeps information about your assets and their distribution largely private.

Revocable living trusts are growing increasingly popular, and while some may see them as being overused, one could benefit your particular situation. As such, we recommend contacting a professional estate planning attorney to determine whether or not a revocable living trust is right for you.

Advance Healthcare Directive 

Advance healthcare directives are a crucial component of thorough estate planning that addresses medical decisions in the event the individual becomes incapacitated and unable to communicate their wishes. A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to designate an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.  A Living Will outlines your specific healthcare preferences, such as life-sustaining treatments, organ donation, and end-of-life care.

By including advance healthcare directives in your estate plan, you can ensure that your medical choices align with your values and are carried out according to your wishes. Another benefit is that it takes the burden away from your family and relieves them from making difficult medical decisions if you become incapacitated.

Financial Power of Attorney

A Financial Power of Attorney, also known as a Durable Power of Attorney, is a legal document that authorizes a trusted person to manage financial matters on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself due to illness, disability, or other circumstances. This document is essential as it ensures that your financial affairs are handled by someone you trust, avoiding potential complications and enabling efficient management of your finances during challenging times.

Specific Laws and Regulations in Ohio

Each state has its own estate planning laws, and Ohio is no different. For example, in Ohio, a last will and testament must be signed in the presence of two unrelated and uninterested witnesses. These witnesses cannot be relatives, beneficiaries, or otherwise involved in the will’s contents. This provision ensures an impartial validation of the will’s authenticity and reduces the likelihood of undue influence or fraud in the document’s creation.

State-specific laws are the primary reason that selecting an estate planning attorney who practices in your state is of the utmost importance. They will be familiar with all of the state-specific laws and ensure that your essential documents and overall estate plan comply with the law. If you live in Ohio, estate planning attorney Mary Lewis Turner can help you better understand the state-specific laws that apply to your estate plan.

Avoid These Common Estate Planning Pitfalls

Some of the most common estate planning pitfalls include failing to create an estate plan, neglecting to update an existing plan, and overlooking valuable assets. Not having a plan can lead to distribution based on state laws instead of a will, which generally causes disputes. Outdated plans may not reflect your current life circumstances or beneficiaries, so you should always update your plan following significant life changes.

Protecting Your Dependants and Heirs

Safeguarding your dependents and heirs is a crucial part of estate planning. When you nominate guardians for your minor children, you ensure they will be cared for by people you trust if anything happens to you before they reach the age of majority. In addition, a special needs trust allows you to provide for children with special needs by appointing someone to manage assets designated to your child.

Another vital aspect to consider regarding estate planning is children from previous marriages. Setting up trusts allows you to account for your children from previous marriages, ensures the fair distribution of assets, and minimizes potential conflict between them and other beneficiaries. Taking these precautions brings peace of mind, knowing your loved ones will be supported according to your wishes.

Why You Should Work With an Estate Planning Attorney

Working with an estate planning attorney is crucial because they possess specialized knowledge and experience that allows them to navigate the complexities of estate laws and documents accurately. They can help you draft an estate plan that meets your needs and ensure nothing is overlooked.

Choosing an estate planning attorney from your state is essential as they are well-versed in local laws, regulations, and tax implications, which may significantly impact the distribution of your assets.

Contact the Leading Ohio Wills and Trust Attorney Today

Estate planning is vital in securing your financial future and ensuring your loved ones are cared for according to your wishes. By avoiding common pitfalls and working with an experienced Ohio wills and trust attorney, such as Lewis Legal Solutions, you can create a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your unique needs. Contact Lewis Legal Solutions today for expert guidance and peace of mind in Ohio estate planning.