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Estate planning for every stage of life

Some Ohio residents may think of an estate plan as something that is only for the wealthy However, estate planning can be important even for single people who have few assets and no dependents. For example, a person may want to create documents that appoint someone to manage any health care or financial issues in the event of incapacity. For a young person, this might be one or both parents.

An estate plan is not a static set of documents. It should be reviewed periodically as a person's assets and family changes. Beneficiary designations for assets such as life insurance and retirement accounts are one example. Many people may not realize that these override a person's wishes as expressed in a will or a trust. However, it can be easy to fill out a beneficiary designation form and forget about it. As a result, a person might leave these assets to a former spouse or someone else unintended.

Marriage, whether a first or subsequent one, is one reason to review and revise an estate plan. The estate plan can protect the new spouse, any property that is brought into the marriage and any children from a previous marriage. When people have minor children, a guardian can be named in a will. As they grow older, people may accumulate more assets for which they need to name beneficiaries.

An attorney may be able to assist a person in creating an estate plan that is appropriate for a particular stage in life that can also be revised as needed. The attorney also may be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of various types of estate planning. For example, revocable and irrevocable trusts can both have uses for people who do not necessarily have high incomes. However, they have different restrictions and may be used for different purposes.

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