Many people think estate planning only applies to what happens after they die. Actually, proper estate planning is important for the living as well. Many people understand that one of the main reasons for estate planning is to avoid probate court as much as possible. However, many may not realize that the probate court can get involved even before death.
Avoiding probate is important for several reasons depending on the situations. If the probate court gets involved it can lead to an increase in both the time and expense to accomplish something. Therefore, it is a great benefit to the heirs of an estate when probate is avoided. Beneficiaries will get their assets sooner and with a lot less hassle. However, many find the biggest problem with probate is not the time or expense, but the fact that anything that is probated is public record.
Clearly, beneficiaries of an estate would prefer that the world not be able to easily discover what they have inherited. However, the public record of probate court can be a privacy threat to the living as well. Part of a good and comprehensive estate plan is establishing a general durable power of attorney or a health care power of attorney. While the general durable power of attorney is much broader, both allow another person to make health care decisions for a person that has become incapacitated. These tools are important because a trusted person is making critical health decisions for someone who cannot do so on their own.
Privacy interests are another reason to designate a power of attorney. Without this in place, if a person is incapacitated and cannot make decisions for themselves, the probate court gets involved. When this occurs, a guardianship must be established to grant someone the power to make health related decisions for the incapacitated person. The person seeking guardianship must apply, and state why the person they are seeking to help should be legally considered incapacitated. This becomes public record, and in most Ohio counties the information is easily available online. Thus, anyone can access the court’s determination of incapacity and see what ailment or ailments caused that designation. A properly executed power of attorney will keep this information private, the way most people would want.
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Kohlhepp Law Office
I provide a personal and comprehensive approach to Estate Planning. I do not simply create a bunch of documents and call it your estate plan. I will work with you to create an actual PLAN. Everyone has different families, interests, needs, and priorities. I will work with you closely to determine what your specific circumstances are and create a custom plan tailored to meet your specific needs and wishes.
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