Law Office of Robert E. Giffin CPA
4924-B Reed Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43220

Eight Estate Planning Documents You Need Right Now

1. Last Will and Testament

  • The Last Will and Testament is where you can specify what you want to happen for your children, pets, and valuable or sentimental possessions after you pass away. This document also allows you to name your beneficiaries and how your assets will be distributed. Your Will can name who you choose as the Executor of your estate and the Guardian of your children.
  • Remember, without a Will, the State of Ohio will determine who gets your property and who will be the Guardian of your children.
  • If you are married, both you and your spouse should each have separate Wills.
  • You can change and add to your Will at any point later on in life.

2. Durable or Financial Power of Attorney

  • In case something happens and you are no longer competent or “of sound mind”, it is important to have someone to act on your behalf. The Durable Power of Attorney allows you to choose who will act on your behalf financially and legally.
  • Don’t put this off.  Accidents may happen at any time and it you have not designated someone as your Power of Attorney, your and your family’s hands will be tied.
  • If you do not have a trustworthy person to act on your behalf, it is possible to have a probate court monitor your affairs though a guardianship or conservatorship. In this case, a Limited Durable Power of Attorney is necessary.

3. Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will

  • Whereas a Durable Power of Attorney deals with your financial and legal affairs if you are to become incapacitated, the Health Care Power of Attorney (also called the Durable Health Care Power of Attorney) and Living Will allows you to name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • A living will allows you to state what types and what extent of care you want or do not want in different circumstances.

4. Beneficiary Designations

  • You are required to name a beneficiary when you purchase life insurance, open a retirement plan, or a bank account. Your chosen beneficiary will inherent those proceeds after you are gone.
  • These designations are powerful and take precedence over a Will.
  • Your beneficiary designation can also be changed over time.

5. Revocable Living Trust

  • A Revocable Living Trust is an all-encompassing legal document that manages your assets while you are still alive and mentally capable. It also provides for your disability and disburses your assets after you have passed away.
  • A Living Trust is called “revocable” because you can change and add to it whenever you please.
  • This is different from a Last Will and Testament because it can be used to disburse your assets not only after your death, but also while you are sill living.
  • If you have considerable property or wealth, a Living Trust can distribute your property over a period of time to your spouse and/or children.

6. Letter of Intent

  • A Letter of Intent is important for information that doesn’t belong in your Will. This can include special instructions, requests and wishes for things that you want, but don’t require to be done.
  • This document will allow you to give more detailed instructions about things such as your funeral or memorial service.
  • This doesn’t carry as much weight as a Will, but is still important to have.
  • This Letter of Intent should be given to your spouse or children to indicate your funeral arrangements and any other information your beneficiaries should have after your death.

7. List of Important Documents

  • This list allows your family or beneficiaries to know what all of your important documents are and where to find them.
  • This can include documents for:
    •  Life insurance policies
    • Annuities
    • Retirement accounts
    • Bank accounts
    • Family Records
    • Real Estate Deeds
    • Stocks, bonds and mutual funds
    • List of bills and accounts, with contact information, so your representatives can close and settle accounts
    • Key to any safe deposit box and the bank or credit union where located
    • A yearly financial statement to show all your assets and liabilities
    • List of passwords for internet accounts, financial accounts, bill paying, etc.

8. Provision for Digital Assets

  • This document will allow your estate or whomever you designate directions on what to do with your digital information after your death.
  • This includes everything from your computer hard drive and your digital photo collection, to information stored in the cloud and online accounts such as email, Facebook and Twitter.



Tel: 614-326-1222
Fax: 614-326-1080

CPA and Tax Attorney

​​​​Robert E. Giffin