Perhaps a fatal car crash on the news or the loss of an elderly loved one has you thinking about your own mortality. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. With this in mind, you probably are feeling the need to make sure you can provide for your family after you die.
Here are some things to consider as you create your estate plan.
If you were to die without a will, Ohio has a succession plan that details who your heirs are and the amount of the assets each will receive. You do not have to follow that plan, but if you do decide to deviate from it and leave a larger amount to one child than another, you may want to discuss your reasoning with them now to prevent a will contest or another conflict later.
A guardian for minor children
Until children turn 18, they need a legal guardian. This is another decision you do not want to leave to the courts or to chance. Before you designate a guardian in your will, consider which of your friends and relatives are the most likely to raise your children the way you would. Think about values, spirituality, religion, education and finances, as well as location, willingness and physical ability.
Someone has to gather your financial documents, process your will, take care of your debts, pay your estate taxes and distribute your assets. These are significant responsibilities, so you want to choose someone who is willing to accept the role and competent to fulfill it.
Rather than listing all your assets in your will, you could place them in a revocable or irrevocable trust. Because the trust is the owner of the assets, they do not go through probate after your death. Depending on the terms you dictate for the trust, the trustee may distribute assets to your beneficiaries immediately, or the trustee may continue to manage the assets and distribute funds to beneficiaries over time.