I have been a Michigan estate planning attorney for 25 years.  While there are a variety of reasons why people decide to meet with an estate planning attorney and create an estate plan, I have found the reasons listed below are the top five.Michigan Estate Planning Attorney

  1. Understanding and Avoiding Probate After Death.  Generally, Wills are probated, meaning the estate is legally divided under the probate court’s direction.  While many people have never even dealt with probate, they still know one thing – they want to avoid it at all costs.  By far, the most common reason why people seek out the advice of an estate planning attorney is to avoid probate.  This stems from probate horror stories covered by the media or told by neighbors, friends or business associates.  For the vast majority of people, avoiding probate is a very good reason to create a comprehensive estate plan and can be easily achieved.
  2. Remaining in Control.  A great motivator for many people to put an estate plan together is the desire to remain in control.  A good estate plan allows you to control your assets during your lifetime, pass your assets to your loved ones when and how you choose, and save every last dime of taxes, court costs and attorney’s fees possible.
  3. Avoiding a Mess.  Many clients seek the advice of an estate planning attorney after personally experiencing, or seeing a close friend or business associate experience, a significant waste of time and money due to a loved one’s failure to make an estate plan, or failing to update an old estate plan.  Choosing someone to be in charge if you become mentally incapacitated and/or after you die – and deciding who will get what, when they will get it, and how they will get it after you’re gone, will go a long way towards avoiding family fights and costly court proceedings.
  4. Protecting Beneficiaries.  There are generally two main reasons why people put together an estate plan in order to protect their beneficiaries: (a) Protecting minor beneficiaries, and/or (b) Protecting adult beneficiaries from bad decisions, outside influences, creditor problems, substance abuse problems and divorcing spouses. For example, if the beneficiary is a minor, Michigan law requires that a “conservator” be appointed to oversee the minor’s needs and finances until the minor becomes a legal adult (at age 18).  This is what we refer to as a “living probate” and can result in time-consuming, expensive and emotionally draining court proceedings. The other situation – where the beneficiary is an adult and has one or more of the problems listed above – requires good planning to make sure that an inheritance isn’t wasted or taken by creditors or a soon to be ex-spouse.  You can prevent family discord and costly legal expenses by taking the time to properly plan for these types of situations.
  5. Protecting Assets from Unforeseen Creditors  Asset protection planning has become a very important reason why many people, including those who already have an estate plan, are meeting with an estate planning attorney. Once you know or even just suspect that a lawsuit is on the horizon, it’s too late to put a plan in place to protect your assets. In addition, average nursing home costs now exceed $7,000 per month (over $84,000 per year), and many people are concerned with losing their hard earned life savings to the nursing home.  It is best to start with a sound financial plan coupled with a comprehensive estate plan that will in turn protect your assets for the your benefit, and for the benefit of your spouse and other loved ones.

Due to changing laws changing and the variety of circumstances generally surrounding wills, trusts and estates in Michigan, we strongly recommend that you seek legal advice from an experienced estate planning attorney that you can trust.  We offer a free consultation to talk about your plan – where you are, where you want to be, and the best way to get there.

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