Fundamental Estate Planning Documents


I recommend that all adults have at least four estate planning documents: a Will, a Durable Power of Attorney, a Medical Power of Attorney, and a Living Will. Many people wrongly believe their estate is too small to bother with any planning, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you do not have these essential documents, please call 216.225.9181, Email, or use the contact form to schedule a consultation.



A Will is a legal document that details who is to receive your assets after your death, and who will carry out the execution of the Will (the executor). If you have minor children, a Will can also name a guardian(s) to care for them.


If you do not have a Will, the provisions of Ohio Revised Code §2105.06 will determine who will receive assets. Your spouse, children or other heirs could end up with less than you planned or anticipated, or people that you did not intend to inherit from you could end up receiving your property. If you have minor children, children could be placed with a guardian you would not have chosen. If there are not trust provisions in your Will, your minor children could inherit money before they are mature enough to manage it. Further, your estate could end up paying much more in taxes and legal fees than necessary.


It is important to remember that a Will does not address every issue in your estate plan. For example, if your Will leaves everything to your children, but your ex-wife is still named as the primary beneficiary of your life insurance policy and retirement account, then your ex-wife would likely receive these assets, regardless of the wishes expressed in your will.


Durable Power of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney is a document that allows you to designate a representative; such as your spouse, adult child or trusted friend, to perform certain actions for you should you become ill, incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage your affairs. The representative could pay bills, manage your property, sell securities or real estate, deal with government agencies, or make major financial decisions on your behalf, depending on how broad or narrow you limit the powers. A Durable Power of Attorney can be revoked at anytime; however, without a power of attorney, your spouse or other loved ones would have to go through the delay and expense having a guardian appointed for you in order to carry out necessary financial transactions.


Durable Healthcare Power of Attorney

A Medical Power of Attorney authorizes a designated person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions for yourself, ideally to carry out what you've specified in your Living Will. Discuss your wishes with the person before appointing them, and be sure they understand and are comfortable with your wishes, and will be strong enough to carry them out even though some family members may object.


Living Will

A living will is an advance medical directive and is an individual's written declaration of what life-sustaining medical treatments will be allowed or refused in the event a person should enter in a persistent vegetative state or develop terminal condition. For example, the person may request that artificial nourishment and hydration be withheld if he or she is terminally ill without hope of recovery.


While you can save money by creating some of these legal documents on your own with pre-prepared forms from book stores or the Internet, I discourage this for several reasons, and recommend that people have a competent estate planning attorney draft these documents. Having your estate planning documents professionally drafted will ensure that your documents conform to the laws of the State of Ohio.


Improperly drafted or last-minute, hand-written estate planning documents are frequently contested and invalidated in court. Professionally drafted documents can often be drafted for as little as few hundred dollars depending on how simple or complex your needs are. Preparing in advance can save your loved ones much grief and expense in the future. Please call 216.225.9181, Email, or use the contact form to schedule a consultation.