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Many Ohio residents become concerned about estate planning after they have children, experience a health scare or learn that a friend or family member has passed away. In some cases, these individuals may be tempted to make use of boilerplate wills and other estate planning forms found online.

In some cases, doing one’s own estate planning doesn’t do any harm. The trouble is that many people don’t realize the complexities of their estates and family relationships, and end up with an incomplete or insufficient plan that can create significant heartache and difficulties for their survivors.

Some individuals draw up wills that fail to take into consideration all of their assets, including retirement accounts. This can be problematic, as plan managers may require complex documentation that direct distributions to beneficiaries. This can be particularly true when a client has divorced and remarried, as divorce settlements may dictate the distribution of some assets after a person has died.

Another area of contention is guardianship. Failing to designate a guardian can put the future of minor children in doubt. It is also critical to appoint a responsible person to be responsible for bequests and life insurance proceeds which have been left to minors.

Individuals and couples may benefit from speaking with an experienced estate planning attorney about these and other concerns. Legal counsel can often suggest documents that address a client’s particular set of needs and goals. For example, if a client is concerned that a potential heir under a will would squander a lump-sum inheritance, an attorney might recommend setting up a trust that would tie distributions to the achievement of specified milestones.