What Do I Need to Include in a Basic Estate Plan?

What Do I Need to Include…

While most people are probably familiar with the concept of a will, they may not have extensive knowledge about what a basic Michigan estate plan entails. There are various documents that comprise a comprehensive estate plan, and those documents may vary somewhat from one individual to the next, depending on their unique circumstances. Some documents, however, are essential to most estate plans, so we will focus our efforts on educating you about those documents in this blog post.

A will is often the foundation of an estate plan. This is a legal document that appoints a personal representative or executor to administer your estate and sets forth how you want your assets distributed following your death. A will can be fairly simple, in that it leaves all of your assets to a spouse or children, or can include much more detailed information, such whom you want to receive specific items of property. When a will represents a stand-alone component of your estate plan, your personal representative must admit the will to the probate court for formal distribution of your assets. However, a will also can be used in conjunction with a trust. In this case, the will acts as a safeguard for any property that you leave out of the trust, whether inadvertently or not. A so-called pour-over will simply provides that all property located outside of your trust will “pour-over” into the trust and be administered according to the terms of the trust, just like all other trust property.

Another essential component to your estate plan is the financial power of attorney. This legal document allows you to designate a person or persons to handle your financial affairs on your behalf. The financial power of attorney may take effect immediately, or, most commonly, only when you become incapacitated and unable to handle your own affairs. This document allows your designated power of attorney to enter into or terminate contracts on your behalf, sell property, invest assets, pay bills, and utilize your funds as needed for necessary expenses.

The other most important component of your estate plan involves your medical care and treatment decisions. Like a financial power of attorney, a power of attorney for healthcare or medical care, which is referred to as a Patient Advocate Designation (PAD) in the state of Michigan, allow you to designate another person or persons to make decisions about medical treatment for you in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to express or make those decisions on your own. This document gives your designated power of attorney specific instructions about the care that you wish to receive, or measures that you want to be taken, in certain situations involving  urgent or ongoing medical care.

As you can see, there are various components to a basic estate plan, which may different according to your individual circumstances. You can avoid leaving the stress of dealing with your property and debts after your death by ensuring that you have a comprehensive estate plan in place well before it becomes necessary. If you need of assistance with your estate plan, no matter your situation, we have the knowledge and resources to assist you. Call Legacy Law Center today and learn how our Michigan estate planning attorneys can advocate on your behalf.

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