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 A will is a legal document that states what you would like to do with what you own  upon your decease. You choose the beneficiaries and the Executor, who is the person  who will manage your estate as it moves through Probate Court.


A trust is a legal agreement between a Grantor and Trustee (who may be the  same person) where the Grantor instructs the Trustee what to do with the assets  transferred to the Trust. A trust will avoid probate, but only if it is properly funded, that  is, all assets are transferred into the trust when it is opened or upon your decease.  Besides avoiding probate, which can be costly and is a public record, a Trust allows you  to hold funds for distribution if a beneficiary is young and state how/when the  distributions should be made. 

Joint and Survivor

If property is held jointly with someone, it will – as the title indicates  – pass to the survivor upon the decease of one of the parties. Real estate and bank  accounts, especially between married couples, are often held this way.

Payable on Death

 As the name indicates, an account that is held “POD” is paid to the  person named on the account upon the account holder’s death. Bank accounts and  investment accounts are often held this way.

Durable General Power of Attorney

 A Power of Attorney gives someone the ability  (power) to do something on your behalf. It can be Limited – for one thing – or General – for many things. Durable means that it withstands one’s incapacity; Springing means it  takes effect upon the happening of an event, like illness. A Durable General POA is what  is often known as a financial power of attorney because it does just that: it allows  someone to make any and all financial decisions for someone. The reason to do one is to  avoid a guardianship in probate court in case you cannot make decisions, but it is  important to realize that it is a powerful instrument and the person named must be  both organized and trustworthy, with the latter – trustworthy – being the most  important part. 

Living Will

A living will is your statement to the world that you do not want to be kept  alive by artificial means, that is, no life supports, which is specifically defined in the  documents. 

Health Care Power of Attorney

A health care power of attorney is just that; you give  someone the power to make health care decisions for you in the event that you are  unable to do so yourself. It also restates the language in the living will saying that you  choose not to be kept alive by artificial means or life supports. The Living Will and  Health Care POA are known as Alternative Directives in the medical community. 

Transfer on Death

Transfer on death (TOD) is precisely what it says: property transfers  to someone upon your decease without probate involvement. You can do this for real  estate and motor vehicles in the State of Ohio.

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