Some Ohio residents may be under the impression that they don’t need to prepare a will or other estate planning documents unless they have children. However, it is important to have a comprehensive estate plan in place whether or not there are obvious heirs involved.

When a person dies without a will, the state law of intestacy will govern the distribution of the decedent’s estate, and if there are no family members, the property of the decedent may end up being turned over to the state. A valid will can provide for the testator’s estate to instead be distributed to friends or to charitable organizations, for example.

Estate planning involves more than just a will. For instance, a detailed health care directive outlining lifestyle preferences and life-saving measures could spare a loved one or hospital staff from making difficult medical decisions on an incapacitated person’s behalf. Long-term care insurance and organ donation instructions are also important. People should keep in mind that they may need to authorize someone to access their medical records and act on their behalf in emergencies. This can be done with a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability authorization form.

Ohio residents interested in preparing estate planning documents such as a will, a health care directive or a power of attorney may benefit by consulting with an attorney. Legal counsel could carefully review a person’s individual circumstances and recommend an estate plan that is most appropriate. An attorney can also conduct a periodic review of a client’s existing estate plan documents and recommend any advisable updates.


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