Skip to Content

Steps to a Successful Estate Plan

04.13.08 written by

Originally published in the Times Reporter, New Philadelphia, April 13, 2008

Two things are certain in life. You have to pay taxes and you will eventually die. You can not avoid the former, but you can help with the latter by taking the time to develop an estate plan which your loved ones will be able to follow after your death. Here are some simple steps to take to make sure that your wishes are followed after you die:

  1. Contact an estate-planning attorney and schedule an appointment to develop an estate plan. An estate planning attorney can be found on the internet, in the yellow pages, or by getting a recommendation from a family member or friend.
  2. After you find an estate planning attorney, talk to the attorney and research his or her background to determine his or her qualifications. Once you are satisfied, contact the attorney and schedule a time to meet to discuss your estate plan.
  3. Most estate planning attorneys will send you an estate planning questionnaire to complete and bring with you to the initial meeting. This questionnaire will request information about your family situation and financial assets. 
  4. Complete the estate planning questionnaire and bring it along with copies of your financial documents to the meeting. 
  5. During your initial estate planning meeting, your estate planning attorney will discuss your personal wishes, federal estate taxes, Ohio estate taxes, avoiding probate, and the various estate planning documents which are appropriate for you.
  6. Within two weeks of your initial meeting, you will receive copies of draft estate planning documents to review. Contact the attorney with any changes or questions.
  7. After you are comfortable with the terms in the draft estate planning documents, contact your estate planning attorney to schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss and execute all of your estate planning documents. At that meeting, you will also discuss how all of your assets should be titled in order to provide the best possible estate tax result for your beneficiaries, as well as to make sure that your wishes are carried out with regards to these estate planning matters.
  8. After your estate planning documents are executed, the originals should be kept with your estate planning attorney or in a safe place such as a safe deposit box or a safe at home.
  9. Your estate plan should reviewed every three to five years.

This estate planning process can be time-consuming, however, considering the seriousness of the process, it will be time well spent.

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