Many people are led to believe that Estate Planning is only for the wealthy or that it is only used at death to distribute assets. The reality is that every family should have a comprehensive Estate Plan of their own. This is not only to ensure that the state of Michigan will not be the one controlling where your assets go, but also to make sure that the person of your own choosing — one who you trust — can make financial and medical decisions for you if you were to become incapacitated. Without your own plan, it can be a very expensive and lengthy process to have these decisions made for you. Having a well-crafted estate plan will reduce or eliminate involvement with the probate system and allow you to control and protect your assets during your lifetime, at death, and for your family’s future generations.
The questions faced during the last 30 years of life are no less daunting than the questions faced in the first 30. At Legacy Law Center, we help families plan for the future, realize their goals, and protect themselves and their loved ones. We bring the latest techniques and advanced planning tools available to give you answers to difficult questions as well as peace of mind. Our Michigan estate planning attorneys frequently respond to these and other vital concerns:
Accomplishing goals like these takes more than just completing the paperwork. Developing a comprehensive estate plan requires working with an experienced estate planning law firm. The Legacy Law Center team will customize your plan after taking the time to get to know you and understand your goals. We will also work with you to maintain your plan over time so that it takes into account your changing needs. Some of the tools we use to do this are:
A last will and testament, more commonly called a will, is the basic building block of your estate plan. This document sets forth your wishes for the disposition of your property when you die. It also names the personal representative who will administer your estate. It's especially important to have a will if you have minor children, because you can appoint a guardian for them in your will. You need a will even if you use other estate planning tools, like trusts, because your will disposes of any property that is not held in a trust or jointly with another person.
There are many types of trusts available depending on your needs, but most common is what's called a revocable living trust, or simply "living trust." A living trust allows you to maintain control and use of property during your life. After your death, the successor trustee you name will manage and distribute trust assets for your beneficiaries according to the rules you made when you created the trust. One major benefit of a trust is that the property it holds does not need to go through probate.
A power of attorney (POA) allows someone you trust to make financial and other decisions on your behalf. You can have a POA that goes into effect at any time, or only in the event you become incapacitated. You may also give someone a limited POA that only allows them to perform only certain functions. Without a POA, if you became incapacitated and needed someone to be able to act on your behalf, they would need to get a court's permission to do so. This could be time-consuming and costly.
A health care directive allows you to designate a person you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. You can provide this person with guidance as to your wishes. Like a power of attorney, a health care directive spares your loved ones the need to go to court to get permission to help you.
Legacy Law Center's experienced, caring team is here to help with your estate planning questions and needs. Contact our Ann Arbor office to learn more.
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