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Wills and trusts are only the beginning of estate planning

Many Ohio residents take a rather narrow-minded approach when it comes to estate planning. They focus almost exclusively on the creation of wills and trusts, and forget to give thought to the more personal aspects of an estate plan. The result can be an effective transfer of wealth from one party to another, but a dearth of interpersonal connectivity. The following items are just some of the more personal aspects of many estate plans.

Many people want to pass down more than just wealth; they also want to leave behind a more emotional connection with their loved ones. One way to achieve that goal is through personal letters, which can be included with other estate planning documents and distributed after the time of death. The content of such letters can cover a wide range of needs; some will simply express love, while others will share hopes of how an inheritance might be used to better an heir's life.

Another example lies in a document naming the individual(s) that are intended to serve the role of guardian to any minor children. Leaving behind this designation can make the legalities of guardianship far easier to manage. It also makes it clear to all involved that a carefully designed plan was put into place to ensure that one's children would be cared for, which can help avoid any legal challenges by other relatives.

Estate planning is centered on financial documents such as wills and trusts. This is not the only focus of the process, however. For many in Ohio, adding personal elements to an estate plan is important. Doing so can give the planner a sense of having created a complete and meaningful plan. It can also give loved ones a reminder of the personal connection they shared with the deceased, at the time when such comfort is needed the most.

Source:, "Review your estate plan against this 14-point checklist", Art Koff, July 20, 2015

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