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What to know about creating an estate plan

Most Ohio residents can benefit from creating an estate plan -- even those who don't have a lot of wealth or valuable property. While many believe that estate planning only relates to how assets are distributed after a person passes, it could actually accomplish a wide range of goals. For instance, an estate plan may appoint guardians for minor children or dictate how a body is handled after passing.

The first step in creating an estate plan is to create an inventory of assets. This may include bank accounts, retirement savings and any other financial vehicles that have cash value. Adding beneficiary designations to such accounts makes it possible to pass on assets to heirs while bypassing probate. However, even if an individual takes steps to avoid probate, it still is wise to also create a will.

In some cases, not all assets will avoid probate. Furthermore, an estate holder might decide that a spouse isn't going to automatically receive assets. Wills are also the way in which a parent can name a guardian for a child. In addition, a living will can include instructions to follow if the estate holder becomes incapacitated for any reason.

By taking steps to avoid probate issues, individuals can make sure that assets will be transferred to the proper beneficiaries in a timely manner. It may also reduce the odds of fights between family members. An attorney could help a client create or update an estate plan. This can further reduce the odds of a legal challenge or other issues after the individual passes on.

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