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Estate planning conversations are often avoided by spouses

Estate planning, just like a prenuptial agreement, is a conversation many Ohio couples prefer to avoid. However, some suggest that the sense of security provided by proper estate planning can be the greatest gift a family can receive. Discussing death or possible incapacitation of a spouse will always be difficult, but once addressed, it can be put away and only revisited in the event of changes such as a marriage, divorce or the birth of a child.

To prepare for the process of drafting an estate plan, it is suggested that both spouses work together to determine what they have and what they need. The insurance coverage provided by an employer might not be sufficient and could be lost when jobs are changed. Furthermore, it is advisable to ensure both parties have life insurance, even if one is a stay-at-home parent. In the event of that parent's death, funds to pay for child and house care will be required. Careful consideration is required when beneficiaries are selected for the life insurance policies.

Once insurance has been addressed and understood by both spouses, each party would be wise to draft a will. This document will determine the designated recipients of a person's assets upon death; it will also name the executor who will manage the estate as well as the powers of attorney who will take control of financial and health-related decisions. Another important conversation that is often avoided involves each spouse's final wishes, including preferences related to burials or cremations as well as one's wishes regarding life-support. It is vital that these wishes are recorded and stored in a place where loved ones can have access to it immediately upon the death or incapacitation of a spouse or parent.

Most of these procedures can be done with self-help programs that are available, but it may be a better idea to consult with an experienced Ohio estate planning attorney. A lawyer can provide guidance and support for ensuring that all the complex aspects are covered. Along with the advice of insurance professionals, a lawyer can craft an estate plan that will ensure financial and personal assets are distributed correctly and in the intended manner upon the death or incapacitation of the client.

Source: USA Today, "5 ways couples can tackle estate planning now", Barbara Marquand, Nov. 14, 2015

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