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Using estate law to its full advantage means more than documents

Without a doubt, Ohio residents need the proper documentation to ensure that their wishes are followed after death. Estate law provides for a variety of ways for them to plan for what happens to their property upon death or incapacitation, but those documents are often just the starting point. Taking additional steps can further help loved ones manage an estate when the time comes.

The simpler an Ohio resident's finances are when either incapacitation or death occurs, the easier it may be for family members to step in and take care of business. For instance, too many credit cards could cause either confusion or missed payments. Closing unneeded accounts once it becomes clear that they no longer serve a purpose (such as to provide ample credit to receive a loan) may help reduce the number of accounts for which someone else must keep track.

Perhaps automating as many payments as possible could help make sure bills continue to get paid until the accounts are otherwise dealt with by an attorney-in-fact (in incapacitation) or an executor (in death). It would undoubtedly be helpful for important papers and other instructions to be kept in a location where a trusted individual can easily find them. An individual's living will, powers of attorney, and last will and testament, along with other documents such as life insurance policies or trusts, could be kept in this location.

Taking these and other steps provides family members with the tools they need in order to take care an individual or the estate. Making sure that the estate includes all of the appropriate documents provides the individual with the peace of mind and knowledge that everything is in order. An estate law attorney can provide invaluable assistance in both endeavors.

Source: USA Today, "Estate planning: How to 'death clean' your finances", Liz Weston, Dec. 29, 2017

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