According to a Caring.com study, only 42 percent of Americans have created any sort of estate plan. For Ohio residents who don’t have an estate plan, it is best to start one by creating a will. A will can dictate who receives certain assets or who is allowed to be a guardian of a minor child.

It is worth noting that a beneficiary designation trumps language put in a will. Therefore, it is important to review beneficiary designations on a 401(k) or other assets. Those who are concerned about going through probate may be able to avoid it by putting assets into a trust. Trusts are managed by a trustee, and he or she will make decisions based on rules that are made when it is created.

A living will may also be a worthwhile addition to an estate plan. It can help account for situations that may arise while a person is still alive. For instance, if a person is incapacitated, the language in such a document will determine how much medical treatment to provide. Regardless of how an estate plan is put together, an individual’s wishes should be communicated to a trustee or an executor on a regular basis.

The estate planning process is one that will ideally last for a person’s entire lifetime. In addition to thinking about how to transfer assets after passing, an individual may also benefit from accounting for issues that could occur while still alive. The use of a medical or financial power of attorney may make it easier to ensure that a person’s wishes are respected. An attorney may provide guidance in creating an effective estate plan.