Powers of Attorney
Powers of attorney allow you to appoint an agent to act on your behalf. You can choose from several types of powers of attorney, including limited powers of attorney that allow the agent to perform a specific financial transaction (i.e. a real estate closing) and general powers of attorney that allow your agent to transact any financial business that you could legal perform yourself.
Executing a power of attorney is one of the two documents you need to consider when planning for a future disability. A durable general power of attorney gives someone the authority to act on your behalf to manage your financial affairs in the event you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage your own finances.
Advance directives, also known as living wills or healthcare powers of attorney, are the second estate planning tool that you need as an element of disability planning. Advance directives ensure that your family knows your desires regarding healthcare if you are unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself due to incapacitation. An advance directive also allows you to appoint an agent to make medical decisions for you and to carry out your desires with regard to life-prolonging medical treatments.
By executing an advance directive, you protect yourself if you become incapacitated and you protect your family from the necessity of making difficult decisions without knowing your wishes.
Having a last will and testament is extremely important to protect your assets for your heirs. A will permits you to provide for your loved ones after your death and gives you control over how your probate estate is to be administered. If you do not have a will, your estate will be administered according to the Ohio intestate laws. The state will decide how to distribute your property and who should receive your property. If you die without any heirs, the state would receive your property because friends and charities are not considered legal heirs.
In a will, you can appoint a guardian for minor children and a conservator to manage the inheritance of a minor child until he or she reaches a certain age. Without a will, your children will receive their inheritance when they reach the age of 18—something you may want to avoid. By creating a trust within your will, you can protect your children’s inheritance and prevent the state from dictating how an inherited fund can be used for the minor children.
Trusts are another estate planning tool that you can use to protect your assets and provide the financial stability of your loved ones. In some cases, you can use a trust to avoid probate, protect assets from creditors, provide income for beneficiaries, and avoid estate taxes. There are several different types of trusts and each type of trust accomplishes different goals; therefore, you need to discuss your goals with an estate planning attorney to determine if you need one or more trusts to protect your assets and your family.
Some individuals consider adding children as co-owners of financial accounts and real estate to avoid probate; however, this may not be the best way to avoid probate or protect assets. The property could become an asset in your child’s bankruptcy or an asset in your child’s divorce action. Using a trust to distribute assets after your death may be a better option depending on your needs and goals.
Business Succession Planning
If you own a business, it is important that you have a plan to close and liquidate the business upon your death or disability or you have a business succession plan in place to ensure the business continues to operate and generate a profit for your loved ones. A business succession plan ensures that the assets of the business will be protected and that you do not leave your family in a situation of making business decisions that they are not prepared to make due to a lack of business skill or knowledge.
Charitable Planning, Tax Strategies, and Medicaid Planning
A comprehensive estate plan considers other issues that are important to you or necessary to protect your assets and your family. For example, if you want to leave part of your estate to a charity, you must have a will in order to do this. By carefully choosing certain estate planning tools and strategies, you can reduce or avoid estate taxes that could substantially decrease the amount of money and property your heirs receive after your death.
For some individuals, Medicaid planning is important to protect assets from being used to pay back Medicaid benefits to the state for nursing home care. Careful planning can reduce or eliminate the state’s ability to get paid back for Medicaid benefits.
Experienced Ohio Estate Planning Attorneys
Our attorneys have extensive experience in using estate planning tools to provide for your family and to protect your assets during your life, after your death, and in the event you become incapacitated. Do not put off the process of drafting an estate plan because you do not know what the future holds.
Contact our office to schedule a consultation. We’ll answer your questions and let you know how we can help.