The title to this article has been a question that I consistently am asked when meeting with clients and also conducting estate planning seminars. I like to tell clients that it is very important for them to have executed estate planning documents, as well as to make sure that their assets are titled in such a way that coincide with their estate planning documents.
For example, I believe that all clients should have a Last Will and Testament, a Living Will, a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, a Durable Power of Attorney for Property, a HIPAA Authorization, and a Funeral Directive. These are all very specific documents with very specific intended goals and purposes. Some of these individuals will also need and/or request a Revocable Trust for various reasons as well.
However, there are a number of other topics that clients wish to discuss and include in their estate planning documents such as:
- What happens if they become incapacitated,
- How can they maintain privacy with their financial and personal affairs,
- How can they save assets if they enter a nursing home,
- Should they be making gifts to family members at this time for tax and/or asset protection planning purposes,
- How do they care for their pets,
- How can their planning documents be changed,
- What happens after they pass away with regard to their funeral arrangements,
- How can they make sure that their family does not fight after they pass away,
- What happens with regard to their children’s marriages/divorces/remarriages,
- What happens to their natural children if they are remarried as a result of their planning matters,
- How can they still control their assets after they pass,
- What happens if they move to another state, and
- How can they save taxes?
- Charitable giving
- Planning for children and/or grandchildren’s education,
- What happens to their digital information,
- What happens if there is a special needs child or grandchild,
- What happens if a beneficiary has gambling or substance abuse issues, and
- What happens if the client has a significant gun collection subject to federal law.
Therefore, even if the person does not have a significant amount of assets, it is still very important for them to have an estate plan with documents to address all of these topics in their estate plan. After they have developed their estate plan, it is important for them to update and revisit these issues, either when there has been a change in the family situation, such as a birth, death, divorce, or some other family event, or at least every three to five years.
If you are interested in learning more about all of these matters, please contact your local estate planning attorney.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.
James F. Contini II, Esq.
Certified Specialist in Estate Planning,
Trust & Probate Law by the OSBA
Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co., LPA
158 North Broadway
New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663