Estate planning, put in simplest terms, is the final plan of one’s life. Few relish the thought of discussing plans involving their transition from life to death, but with money and assets to hand down to loved ones, it is a discussion that needs to happen.
When you have located an estate planning attorney, expect these tough questions to be thrown around. The more clearly you can answer them, the better service your law professional can offer.
If Both Parents Die, Who Will Raise the Kids?
Many parents wait until children are grown before putting their last wishes on paper. Not because they are lazy, but many times few trustworthy persons exist to care for the children. While this may seem logical, what happens when an unfortunate accident claims the life of both parents, and children are barely teenagers? It is best to name primary caregivers now so courts are not forced to use their “best interest” calculators later.
What if Everyone Dies Due to “Acts of God”?
Naturally, property will follow a chain of command upon the original owner’s death. One contingency few plan for is the unlikely event natural disasters take everyone’s life. For some, there is always an aunt, uncle, or best friend who will gladly oversee their estate; for others, that question creates many more questions.
When making a will in Ohio, decide who will be next of kin when all kinfolk are gone, even if it is your favorite charity or church. If not, the state may take control of your assets.
What are Your Usernames, Email Addresses, and Passwords?
30 years ago, this question would be arbitrary. Our technologically controlled lifestyles require usernames, passwords, security questions, and email addresses to maintain, which means books you have authored, pictures available only online and memories hiding inside an email account will need to be accessed by your next of kin. Always have this information on file and current with an estate planning attorney.
Who Will Make Medical Decisions for You?
The hardest part of growing up is knowing you will eventually witness the decline of your parent’s health. To take away further stress involved with making medical decisions, a durable power of attorney may be necessary. These directives allow medical facilities to handle the tough decisions that come with administration of life-saving procedures, or that difficult decision to remove incurable patients from life support.
Will You Have Animals Spoken for?
Let us not take for granted the love and support our pets give us, or the money your thoroughbred horses made your family. You may not need an individual “pet trust” established, but having your four-legged pals spoken for will certainly put your mind at ease. It will also be assured they are cared for until their final resting place.
What Property is Paid Off, and What Remains Mortgaged?
Real estate and other high-value properties will get left to children or others. Expensive boats, cars, beachfront condos, and primary residences will need clear titles on hand, and those with mortgages or loans should either have some means to pay them off, or enough funds from annuities, savings, IRAs or life insurance to pay off. Taxes should be paid to date, and have enough funds in the estate to pay off in the event of an untimely death.
Why Estate Planning is Important
Because estate planning and retirement planning are two separate methods of caring for separate areas of life, they should be done together. As stated before, any property left unaccounted for after one’s death either goes to the living spouse by default, then children may stake their claim. If nobody claims money or property, Ohio may confiscate it and sell it for its tax value.
The toughest questions one may face will come when meeting with an estate planning attorney. While these questions are indeed difficult, the benefits you will secure for your loved ones through a last will and testament are priceless.
Kryszak & Associates, Co., LPA, offers superior representation in estate planning, probating wills, and creating your durable power of attorney. For a consultation regarding Ohio estate planning and the issues, you could face, contact us today.