Estate planning is something that should not be taken lightly. It is a very important aspect of life that should not be overlooked, no matter your age. You can begin planning your estate the minute you are hired for your first job out of college. Estate plans should be updated as you experience different life events, such as marriage, the birth of children, divorce and more. Here are five steps to a strong estate plan.

Create a revocable living trust. This will prevent your estate from going to probate upon your death. A trust will help your family save time and money on inheritance fees. The trust will name your inheritors, which means they will receive your property in a timely manner upon your death.

Convert your accounts to pay-on-death accounts. This includes personal accounts and any IRAs you have in your name. The form you complete will name a beneficiary who will receive your money upon your death without it hitting probate.

Make sure any property you own is done so jointly with your spouse. Any jointly owned property is automatically transferred to your surviving spouse upon your death without going to probate. Probate can still be avoided by filing a copy of the death certificate along with an affidavit by the joint tenant.

If your estate is worth more than $5.45 million it will be taxed by the federal government. If you know ahead of time that you are sick, consider giving away some of your wealth in order to reduce the value of your estate to avoid taxes. There are tax consequences and limits when gifting wealth, so be sure to structure the gifts with an experienced attorney by your side.

Use the small estate laws in Ohio to your advantage. These laws and provisions, if used properly, can help you avoid estate taxes upon your death.

Learn more about estate planning in Columbus, Ohio, and how you can properly plan now for the future.