Estate planning begins with an exercise of the mind – an uncomfortable internal question and answer session. What happens to my assets when I die? Who will manage my money if I’m in the hospital or a nursing home? For many, answering these questions is difficult and uncomfortable. Sometimes people don’t have relatives to leave their assets with or to name as a power of attorney. Sometimes they have relatives, but they can’t trust them or don’t get along with them.
Many find it difficult to choose their heirs and agents, thoughtful estate planning can help. That way, if they do become incapacitated, they won’t be overseen by a family member guardian who they despise or a court-appointed guardian who is a perfect stranger. Or if the person dies, their estate won’t pass to distant or disliked relatives according to Ohio’s statute.
As difficult as the exercise may be in these situations, a thoughtful estate plan can bring protection and peace-of-mind to many that face the following:
- You don’t have any relatives to name as a power of attorney? Consider naming an old friend or neighbor or someone you know from a club or church.
- Worried about giving someone who is not a family member control of your money? Consider drafting a limited power of attorney with oversight provisions.
- You have no relatives to name as beneficiaries of your estate? Contact the Cleveland Foundation about charitable estate planning. Ask yourself what your interests are and direct your estate to a non-profit or other entity that will promote those interests.
While the planning process may be temporarily uncomfortable, consider the reality that doing nothing may put your assets under the control or in the hands of people you don’t know, don’t like, or don’t trust. Simple, thoughtful estate planning puts you in control.