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Estate Planning and Trusts

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Any adult, 18 years or older, is responsible for his/her own property and life.  If you do not have any of the following documents in place and an illness or accident should occur where you become unable to speak for yourself, the courts may be the one deciding what happens to you and your property.
 
When should you complete your estate plan?  Now, while you are in good health and of sound mind.  No one can predict when or where an accident or an illness will happen that could disable an individual for a period of time or for life, or even take a life.  Advanced planning ensures that your wishes are carried out when that “what if…” happens.  By being proactive and having certain documents in place, you can:

  • Name a person to manage your finances and business, such as paying the bills, talking with your health insurance company in regard to your benefits, making payroll, etc.,
  • Name a person to make medical decisions if you become unable to do so and to obtain medical records to make informed decisions about your care,
  • Direct a physician on your wishes in regard to life support issues, and
  • Direct how your property and assets are to be distributed at your death.

Documents to have prepared for when you are living:

Documents to have prepared to direct what happens while you are alive and upon your death:

  • Trusts - Living, Revocable, Irrevocable, Special Needs, Charitable, Medicaid, Grantor, Qualified Income, Family, and Pet. (click for details)

Documents to have prepared for when you die:

We look forward to assisting you. Use our contact form or give us a call to schedule your first appointment.

Documents to have prepared for when you are alive:

Durable Financial Power of Attorney – this document allows you to name a person or persons to manage your financial affairs for you. This document can be made effective the date that you sign the document or later when an event occurs, such as an automobile accident or a mental illness. You should name a person that you trust to manage your financial affairs. Most spouses name each other as primary agents and name one of their children, a sibling, or a parent as an alternate agent. If you are in a non-traditional relationship, you may want to name your significant other.

 If you become unable to manage your financial affairs after an event, depending on the situation, a guardianship may have to be filed to make sure your financial affairs are kept in order, such as paying bills, obtaining Medicaid benefits, etc.

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Advanced Directives

this would include the Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will Declaration, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) waiver, Donor Registration, and Comfort Care. You would name an agent to have the authority to make medical decisions when you become unable to do so. You should name a person that you trust and that you have discussed your wishes with. Most spouses name each other as primary and one of their children, a sibling, or a parent as a second contact. If you are in a non-traditional relationship, you may want to name your significant other.
 
Through the Franklin County Probate website  under “Forms” then “Advanced Directives,” you will find links to the Advanced Directive forms. In addition, if you are unsure how to approach this subject with your spouse, significant other, or parents, LeadingAge Ohio has a booklet entitled, “Conversations That Light the Way, Advance Care Planning,” that guides your conversation.
 
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) waiver form is usually prepared by an attorney or a health care provider, such as the hospital or rehabilitation facility. This document allows you to name a person or persons to have access to your medical records to assist them in making an informed decision or dispute a medical bill.

The above powers of attorneys (financial and health care), declarations, and waivers all become null and void at your death. Upon your death, the various financial institutions, creditors, court system, etc. will make inquiries to see if your estate has a named agent to manage your affairs at your death. Below are two documents in which you will name this agent.

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Documents to have prepared to direct what happens while you are alive and upon your death:

Trusts – A trust is a document that allows an individual to accomplish specific goals such as plan for your care if and when you become disabled, plan for care for a disabled spouse or child, and manage your affairs upon your death. It is a private document. With a trust, you can name a person or persons or a corporation who will manage your assets (property) while you are alive and when you die.
 
The types of trusts are endless : Living, Revocable, Irrevocable, Special Needs, Charitable, Medicaid, Grantor, Qualified Income, Family, and Pet.  Not every individual needs a trust. Having a trust is dependent on several factors in your life, including your assets, property, health, family, and what your wishes are in regard to how you want to live, protection of assets and property, and how you want your property distributed at your death. As people are different, so is each person’s situation and needs.

This is a document that should be prepared by an estate planning attorney who understands your situation, financially, medically, and family, and understands your wishes.

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Documents to have prepared for when you die:

Last Will and Testament – This document is a statement from you as to what happens to your assets at your death. You would name an executor to oversee your property and investments at your death. Depending on the planning that you accomplished prior to your death, such as naming beneficiaries of your assets at your death, your estate may or may not need probated (a process through the court system that allows your executor to manage your estate assets after your death to distribute those assets to your named beneficiaries of the will and by law). Most spouses name each other as primary executor and one of their children, a sibling, or a parent as an alternate executor. If you are in a non-traditional relationship, you may want to name your significant other. If you have a trust established, you could also name the trustee (or successor trustee) of your trust.

An estate does not always need probated. This is where your estate planning attorney can assist you with your planning. You want to be open and honest with your attorney so you can obtain the best possible plan that fits your situation. If you have a financial planner or a personal attorney that you trust and have worked with, we have had clients bring these individuals with them to the meetings. By having a team of experts working for you, you can be assured that your estate plan will meet your needs.

Declaration of Funeral Arrangements – This document allows you to name a representative to make funeral arrangements on your behalf.  This representative also makes decisions regarding the final disposition of your body after your death.  This document allows you to express your wishes with regarding your funeral service or burial location.

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