Five Must-Have Estate Planning Documents

February 07, 2022  

There is one estate planning document that everyone knows about. That is the Last Will and Testament. Do you really need more than that if your estate is not huge? Yes! Even though you are not Jeff Bezos, you still need a comprehensive estate plan. While many estate planning documents do involve the distribution of assets, not all of them do. The following are the core estate planning documents and why you “must have” them.

The Last Will and Testament

If you do not have a will, then the State of Ohio will apply an algorithm to distribute your assets. Half will go to your spouse while the other half will be divided between the rest of your heirs. Living children have the greatest claim while parents and siblings have a secondary claim. If the state can find no living relatives, then your estate will be absorbed by the government and auctioned off for public funds. 

Even those who have invested in trusts will need a last will and testament. It is the foundation document for your estate plan.

Healthcare documents

Three of the “must-have” estate planning documents involve health care considerations.

In the event that you are unable to advocate on your own behalf, you can establish documents that will tell your doctors what types of medical intervention they can or cannot perform. DNR orders, whether you want to be placed on a respirator, and how your doctors should approach certain ailments are all considerations that you want to include in your Living Will and discuss with your health care proxy

Your Living Will directly addresses what types of medical procedures you authorize when you cannot advocate for yourself. Your health care proxy is authorized to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable. Both will need to be documented to be actionable.

Further, you will need to give health care proxies access to your medical information through HIPAA releases which act to protect your medical privacy.

Power of attorney

A durable power of attorney (DPOA) is a relationship someone has to a close friend or relative. They are authorized to make financial decisions on behalf of the authorizing party. This includes the ability to manage your estate if you become unable. They will pay bills, open and close accounts, and manage your estate in the event that you can no longer do that yourself. 

A living trust

While traditionally, most have relied on wills to distribute their assets, a better alternative exists. Those are living trusts. Not only can living trusts remove assets from your estate that you pay taxes on (and thus reduce your tax burden) but they are much more effective vehicles at distributing assets. Assets distributed in a will must pass through probate. Assets distributed in a trust are passed directly to heirs. You can also establish terms for the distribution of assets within a trust.

Talk to a Sheffield Village Estate Planning Attorney Today

It is probably time to review your estate plan. The attorneys at Kryszak Law Firm, Co., LPA can help. Call today for an appointment and we can review your plan today.