Many people believe that estate planning involves nothing more than the distribution of assets after death. While that is certainly part of it, a comprehensive estate plan can help you accomplish much more. For example, a properly designed and implemented estate plan allows you to name people of your own choosing to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacity. Without your own plan, the court will choose who can make these important decisions for you.
In essence, a well-designed plan allows you to control and protect your assets while you are alive, after you have passed away and for generations to come. Depending on your particular situation, we can design a customized plan that can help you achieve all of the following goals and more:
- Control how and when your assets are distributed after you pass away
- Prepare Wills, Trusts or Powers of Attorney to meet your family’s objectives
- Name a guardian for your minor children
- Name people of your choosing to handle medical and financial decisions if you become incapacitated and can no longer manage your own affairs
- Avoid the delays, lack of privacy and frustration inherent in the Michigan probate process
- Protect your heirs’ assets against creditors, lawsuits, divorce, remarriage and other potential problems
- Minimize or even eliminate estate, gift and other taxes
- Pass your values, work ethic and sense of responsibility on to your heirs
- Leave a lasting legacy
- Enjoy greater peace of mind
How do we help you accomplish goals like these? Here is a brief introduction to some of the estate planning tools we can put to work on your behalf.
Last Will and Testament
This allows you to control “who gets what” after you pass away. It also lets you name guardians for minor children. Be careful! Wills must go through probate, so make sure you understand exactly how your plan will work for you and your family.
Durable Powers of Attorney
These allow you to name people of your own choosing to make financial and medical decisions for you in the event of incapacity. Not all powers of attorney are created equal. More than half of the powers of attorney we review are missing key provisions, especially provisions that will allow your loved ones to protect your assets in the event you need nursing home care or other long-term care. In addition, Michigan’s powers of attorney law changed in 2012. We would be glad to review your powers of attorney to make sure they are up-to-date and contain all of the necessary provisions.
Patient Advocate Directive (Advance Directives, Living Will, Health Care Power)
These allow you to choose, in advance, the type of medical care you would want if you can’t make or communicate your desires on your own. In addition, a HIPAA Authorization allows your loved ones and key decision makers to access medical information about your condition when they need it.
There are many types of trusts, capable of helping you accomplish a variety of goals. One of the most common is the revocable living trust. It allows you to maintain complete control over your assets while you are alive and after you have passed away. You don’t have to transfer your assets to the trust all at once, you can do so over time and even add to the trust as you acquire new assets. This allows for ongoing financial management. Perhaps most importantly, a revocable living trust allows your estate to avoid Michigan probate.
Contact us today to schedule a fee consultation to discuss your particular needs and goals. The earlier you begin the planning process, the more options we will have to protect your loved ones and yourself.