Responsible estate planning Park National Bank

Responsible estate planning Park National Bank


Lauren Kellett, Guest Columnist
Published 2:57 p.m. ET Aug. 22, 2020

There is no time like the present to start or update your estate plan. It might seem like a daunting task, but if you have four basic estate planning documents in place, you’re off to a great start.

In Ohio, these are the four key estate-planning documents most estate planning professionals consider essential:

Living Will: This is considered one of Ohio’s two Advance Directives forms where you can express your wishes regarding your healthcare.  This form allows you to state your “end of life care” wishes.

Per Ohio law, this document is only applicable if you are in a terminally ill or permanently unconscious state. In less serious health-related scenarios, your healthcare power of attorney document will apply.

Healthcare Power of Attorney: This is the second of Ohio’s advance directive forms. It is utilized when you are incapacitated and unable to make health care decisions not severe enough to fall under the living will directives. It is important to know the healthcare agent you name cannot supersede your wishes laid out in your living will.

For example, if your agent insists life-sustaining treatment should be continued, but you have a signed living will stating the contrary, your healthcare providers must follow the direction in your living will.

The Durable Financial Power of Attorney: You may feel confident you can pay your own bills and handle your own financial affairs for years to come. But, what about when it becomes difficult to continue doing those things? Unfortunately, for many, by the time they need help paying their own bills, they might not have the mental capacity to create their own financial power of attorney.

It is always better to get this document in place sooner than later. A word of caution: make sure the person you name to act as your agent or attorney is someone you trust enough to handle your checkbook. You are essentially giving your agent access to your money and allowing them to make financial decisions on your behalf.

Ohio law does offer some safeguards in the form of hot powers. You must explicitly state your agent has the authority to carry out these hot powers (such as give gifts or create a trust on your behalf), or they will not be able to perform these acts.

Will: Everyone should have an updated will in place. Any assets registered in your name alone at death will pass through probate and your will dictates what happens to them.

Do you think a will is unnecessary because a trust is in place or you titled all your assets payable on death to a beneficiary? Well, I have seen all too many times the unfortunate scenario where a person believes they have nothing to go through probate, only to see an asset or assets are missed. With no will, Ohio law will dictate where your assets go and the local county probate court decides who will administer your estate.

The good thing about these four essential documents is many estate-planning attorneys will prepare all of them for you for a fixed price. That makes it easy to check all four documents off your list at once.  Preparing these documents is one easy way to take a proactive step to getting your affairs in order. 

Lauren Kellett is a trust administrator and has been at Park National Bank for eight years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in politics and journalism at Ohio Wesleyan University and a J.D. from Ohio Northern University College of Law. Lauren lives in Granville with her husband and two daughters. She can be reached at lauren.kellett@parknationalbank.com or 740-349-3736.

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