Ohio residents should be sure to inform their loved ones about the location of important estate-planning documents. According to a December 2016 survey from BMO Wealth Management, one-third of people have told their beneficiaries where to find their powers of attorney or will. An additional 10 percent have provided copies of the original documents to their heirs.

If heirs are unable to find a will, there is a legal presumption in several states that the decedent revoked and destroyed the document. As a result, state intestacy laws will determine how assets will be allocated. If an older version of a will is located, that may be the will that is used, even if the decedent’s preferences had changed.

The proper management of estate planning documents requires that the originals are secured in a safe place and that each is in a sealed and marked envelope. It is not guaranteed that a court will accept replacements, such as paper copies or digital files, especially if the estate is contested. The original powers of attorney or healthcare proxy forms may also be required by the state.

Individuals should provide copies of their essential estate documents to the necessary parties, such as their accountants, attorneys and financial advisors. It is advisable to provide copies to a neutral party and trusted family members as well. They should also ensure that someone other than their spouse is aware of the documents’ location. This is so that the documents can be quickly located if both spouses die or become incapacitated.

After assessing a client’s assets, an estate planning attorney may advise of the appropriate type of will to use and may assist with drafting the document so that there are no questions as to the grantor’s intent. Additional services may include addressing potential probate issues.

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