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Is estate planning even right for me?

A will is an incredibly important and often overlooked tool. This document can provide a wide array of protections and benefits, but many in Ohio still eschew the estate planning process, viewing it as something for only the rich or very wealthy. A comprehensive will is not reliant on a certain number of valuable assets, and can be used by virtually everyone to create the best estate plan possible, easing the burden for loved ones left behind.

After a person's death, his or her estate will almost always proceed through the probate process, during which assets will be valued, debts will be paid and the remaining estate will be passed out. Wills provide the basic instructions for probate, making the process run more quickly and easily. A will can also provide different protections throughout life.

Wills for married individuals can be especially helpful, particularly for those who recently tied the knot and still have a significant amount of personal property. A will defining exactly who gets what can minimize any potential tension between a surviving spouse and the deceased's family. Blended families -- those that bring children into the mix -- should seriously consider how wills can protect their children's interests. If one partner passes before the other, their children's inheritances could be at stake.

Most parents of minors usually spend plenty of time thinking about their kids' futures, but they rarely stop to consider what will happen if both parents pass away. A will can name a guardian for the children should the need arise, a decision which would otherwise be decided by a judge. Parents can also dole out funds to their children as they reach certain ages, rather than dumping the entirety of their inheritance on them at age 18.

Wills are far more than just documents. They are an invaluable estate planning tool that can be utilized in many ways. Whether protecting children's inheritances, naming guardians for minors, providing clear directions for probate and so much more, it is important for most Ohio residents to utilize a will.

Source: CNBC, "Think you're not rich enough to need a will? Think again", Deborah Nason, Oct. 24, 2017

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