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Review and update estate planning documents every 5 years

There are many seniors in Ohio who have estate plans that have not been reviewed in many years. The problem arises, however, that a plan that has not been reviewed for 10 or 20 years or more may be woefully out-of-date. The personal representative of the will may need to be changed and other testamentary appointments may be unavailable or deceased after that long of a period. Estate planning is an ongoing process. 

In addition, new beneficiaries may have been born and others may have died or fallen out of favor with the testator. Divorces may have occurred that may change the whole dynamics of the plan. It is recommended that existing documents be reviewed at least every five years, and also whenever a change occurs that may require revisions in some of the documents.

If the testator dies with out-of-date estate planning documents, will contests and other irregularities could hold up the probate process while inordinate delays occur. To have beneficiaries arguing over a confused or ambiguous set of documents could be a financial disaster to the estate. In addition, where documents are old, the testator should also consult with an estate planning attorney to determine the status of all powers of attorney.

There are health care powers of attorney and financial powers of attorney. In the health care area, a representative is appointed to make health care decisions if the maker does not have the requisite mental capacity. Such documents may also inform the medical doctors that the maker does not wish to be maintained on artificial life support systems in the event of brain death.

The financial power of attorney is vitally important because is allows a trusted appointee to take over the individual's daily financial matters without having to go through the expense of having the court appoint a guardian or conservator. There are many other issues that must be at least reviewed and considered to conduct effective estate planning. Because these matters can be quite complex, Ohio residents will be well served by consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney to go over the foregoing and all other remaining issues.

Source: heraldstandard.com, "Your Financial Future: Estate planning", Gary Boatman, Nov. 23, 2017

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