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Singles have different estate planning focus

For many Ohio residents, the primary focus of estate planning is the smooth transfer of wealth to children and grandchildren. While this is an important function of the estate planning process, it is essential to note that not everyone has the same set of needs when it comes to their planning strategy. For many single people, the focus is often on creating a plan that ensures that the proper level of care is attainable in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury.

That plan begins with the designation of a durable power of attorney. It authorizes an individual to handle all of one's financial affairs in the event of incapacitation. It is important to select a person who is trustworthy, and who shares the same basic approach to financial matters. The designated individual will have a great deal of power if he or she is called to fill that role, so it is important to select someone who is willing to take the time to discuss how financial matters should be addressed during a time of need.

Another important designation is a medical power of attorney. The individual named in this capacity will have the authority to make all of one's medical decisions if incapacitation occurs. That decision-making process can be guided by means of a health care directive, which is a document that clearly outlines an individual's wishes when it comes to medical treatment. A health care directive can be very detailed, and can even list specific procedures and interventions that an individual does not want undertaken on his or her behalf.

It is important to note that Ohio residents can select two different people to fill these estate planning roles, or can delegate both financial and medical decision-making authority to the same person. When choosing a friend or family member to perform these functions, it is essential to select someone who is willing to sit down and discuss these matters in depth. The key to a successful outcome lies in open communication about how one would like their affairs to be managed in the unlikely event that incapacitation becomes an issue.

Source: Forbes, "Estate Planning For Single People", Douglass Rothermich, June 18, 2015

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