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New Year's resolution: create or review your estate plan

Estate planning is one of those things most people know they should do, but like many things, they often put it off, believing that it is not the highest priority today. They may have other obligations and a busy life, and sometimes just putting together dinner and making sure the kids get to their activities may be about all they can handle after work.

The trouble with estate planning is that it is best done far in advance, as you can carefully and thoughtfully work through the details. You also gain insight into issues like how much income you may in retirement, whether you need to adjust your investments and how to protect your assets from excessive taxes.

Your estate plan may contain a will and you may need a trust or multiple trusts, depending on the complexity of your finances. Other useful legal instruments include a power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney, a living will, and an HIPPA release. All of these documents provide specific authority for matters such as the control of your finances if you are incapacitated, authority to make healthcare decisions for you or access to information about your medical care.

If you have created a comprehensive estate plan, the start of a new year can be a good time to sit down with your attorney and review that plan. As you age, you may notice that time seems to pass more quickly, and while you may think of your estate plan as something you did "recently," you may be shocked to find it has been five or 10 years since it was created.

During that time, your situation may have changed and it is likely that some laws have been amended by the Ohio legislature, making it important to review the plan and ensure that it is current and will achieve your wishes.

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