Assets that are held in an Ohio estate are transferred to beneficiaries per instructions left in a decedent’s will. However, this document has little to no bearing on assets that are not contained in your estate or are owned jointly with another person. Furthermore, a will offers little protection if you become incapacitated at any point during your life.
What happens to assets held outside of your estate?
Beneficiary designations are typically used to determine what happens to retirement, bank and other financial accounts. If you don’t fill out a beneficiary designation form, the account may go back to your estate, where it will likely be subject to probate.
If a home, a business or other assets are held in a trust, those items will continue to be managed by the trustee after your passing. You do have the right to stipulate that trust assets be liquidated or otherwise transferred to a beneficiary after you pass.
What happens if you become incapacitated?
A power of attorney document would allow someone to manage your financial affairs if you are unable or unwilling to do so yourself. A medical power of attorney would be able to make decisions regarding the type of treatment that you receive while in a coma or after experiencing a decline in cognitive function. Naming an agent on your own reduces the risk that a judge may appoint someone who you don’t trust to manage your affairs.
While a will can be a powerful estate planning tool, it isn’t necessarily the only one that you should make use of. A legal professional may help you create a will, trust or power of attorney document that meets your needs and adheres to state law.