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Roughly half of all adults in Ohio and throughout the nation do not have a will. While failing to create an estate plan is not uncommon, it can cause headaches for family members after the estate owner’s death.

There are several reasons a person may want to create an estate plan. Without one, the state will decide how assets will be distributed. While there are do-it-yourself documents available online, an attorney can help a client understand the many estate planning options that are available. Controlling and managing assets is one of the main reasons to have an estate plan. The estate owner can decide which family members will receive which assets and when.

For some estates, taxes, probate fees and other costs could be an issue. Therefore, an estate owner may want to discuss strategies for reducing these expenses with an attorney. Asset protection is another reason to create an estate plan. This may involve protecting assets from spend down so that a person qualifies for Medicaid or getting additional insurance coverage in case of an expensive car accident.

There are other aspects and elements of an estate plan to take into account as well. For example, even people who do not have a will may have signed beneficiary designation forms for retirement or life insurance accounts. These override wills and trusts, so they should be kept up to date and consistent with the rest of the estate plan. Planning in case of becoming incapacitated is another important part of the process. Powers of attorney for financial matters and health care can help ensure that loved ones do not have to go to court and get guardianship in order to take care of the estate owner’s finances and medical decisions.