Why Estate Planning Isn’t Just for the Wealthy: Understanding Its Benefits for Everyone

November 28, 2023 By William Blair
Let’s get something straight: estate planning isn’t just a fancy term reserved for the rich and famous, far from it. In fact, whether you own a sprawling mansion or a cozy two-bedroom condo in Ohio, estate planning is something you’ll want to wrap your head around. So grab a cup of coffee, and let’s talk about why planning for the future can be one of the most responsible things you’ll do for yourself and your loved ones—no matter the size of your bank account.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning — the phrase might conjure images of legal documents and confusing jargon, but it’s really about protection and peace of mind. It’s creating a game plan for what happens to your assets (like your home, savings, and Grandma’s heirloom ring) after you’ve hit the road for the great beyond. It involves wills and trusts, sure, but it’s also about making sure folks aren’t left guessing about your final wishes.

Common Misconceptions about Estate Planning

Discussing the inevitable isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but when it comes to estate planning, there are a few tall tales that need addressing:
  1. For the Wealthy Only: Contrary to popular belief, estate planning is crucial for everyone, regardless of economic status.
  2. Too Young to Plan: Age is just a number, and starting early can only benefit your loved ones in the long run.
  3. Simple Assets, No Need: Simple or not, assets need direction, and a will helps guide them to the right hands.

Estate Planning in Ohio: What You Need to Know

Now, when it comes to getting your ducks in a row in the Buckeye State, there are some local laws and guidelines you’ll want to keep in mind. From the idyllic shores of Lake Erie down to the bustling streets of Cincinnati, Ohio’s laws can affect how your estate is handled — making it all the more important to have your plan tailored to fit the state’s rules.

Key Components of a Solid Estate Plan

Creating a solid estate plan is like preparing a life blueprint for your loved ones. Here’s a quick rundown of what to include:
  • Will: Outlines asset distribution and guardians for any minor children.
  • Trust: Manages assets for beneficiaries, possibly avoiding probate.
  • Power of Attorney: Authorizes someone you trust to handle legal or financial decisions if you’re incapacitated.
  • Health Care Directives: Specify your wishes for medical care and appoint someone to decide if you can’t.
  • Beneficiary Designations: Directs specific assets like retirement accounts and life insurance policies to chosen individuals.

How Estate Planning Benefits You

Think of estate planning like a remote control for your assets, with benefits that reach beyond your lifetime:
  • Control: Dictate who inherits items like your vintage baseball card collection or family recipes.
  • Ease for Family: Spare your loved ones from the complex probate process.
  • Financial Protection: Shield your heirs from hefty inheritance taxes that may erode their legacy.

Ohio Estate Taxes and Laws You Should Know

In Ohio, you won’t have to worry about paying state estate taxes. There’s one less thing to keep you up at night! But you’ll still want to consider how federal taxes and the overall probate process might affect your estate. Knowledge is power, especially when it involves the IRS.

Planning for the Unforeseen

No one likes thinking about worst-case scenarios. But having a will or trust in place means that if something unpredictable happens — like you’re in a boating accident on the Ohio River — your estate plan will have your back.

Best Practices with Estate Planning in Ohio

  1. Each state has its quirks, and Ohio is no exception. To ensure your estate planning is seamless, stick to these best practices:
  2. Consult a knowledgeable estate planning attorney familiar with Ohio laws.
  3. Understand Ohio’s probate procedures to avoid future hurdles for your heirs.
  4. Maintain updated wills and trusts to reflect life changes.
  5. Consider setting up a living will and healthcare power of attorney for medical decisions.
  6. Regularly review beneficiary designations to ensure they align with your current wishes.
Partnering with the right experts and staying informed are keys to effective estate planning.

The Role of Professional Advisors in Estate Planning

When you’re charting your course for the future, it’s okay to ask for directions. Estate planning attorneys and financial advisors are the GPS of the legal world. They make sure you don’t take a wrong turn and end up in a legal mess.

Ready to Start Your Estate Planning Journey in Ohio?

If you’re ready to take control of your estate planning in Ohio, start by making a list of what you own and who you’d like to leave it to. Consider the issues that are unique to your situation. Do you have a blended family? Own a business? These factors play a part in shaping your estate plan.


Estate planning is about taking care of your family and setting things up so they have one less thing to worry about when you’re not around to crack jokes at the dinner table. It’s not just for the well-to-do; it’s for anyone who wants to leave their mark on the world in a positive way.