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Friday, April 12, 2019

Michigan Estate Planning 101

Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the management of a person's estate during his or her life and after death while minimizing associated taxes. A typical estate includes things like:

  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Vehicles
  • Retirement accounts
  • Personal property 
  • Insurance proceeds
  • Dividends 
Below is some additional information about estate planning in Michigan.

Why You Need An Estate Plan


If you die without an estate plan in Michigan, the state will create one for you based on existing laws. Unfortunately, however, estate plans crafted by the state don’t account for your unique circumstances or wishes. Rather, the state relies on statutory guidelines to determine how your property will be distributed. In addition, without an estate plan, your estate will pass through probate, which is an expensive, public, and slow process. Therefore, in order to avoid this situation, it is highly recommended that you obtain the services of an experienced Michigan estate planning attorney to begin the estate planning process. 


Wills


A will is one of the most important parts of the estate planning process. Among other things, a will can:

  • Name the person you want to act as executor of your estate
  • Provide directions for asset distribution 
  • Name a guardian for your children

However, a will can’t help your beneficiaries avoid probate, and it can’t transfer some types of accounts and property. Luckily, though, a trust can often pick up the slack in areas where a will falls short. 

Trusts

A trust grants a third party, known as a trustee, the right to hold your assets on behalf of a beneficiary. The trustee is required to manage and distribute your assets according to your instructions. One of the benefits of establishing a trust is that it allows your estate to avoid probate. Additional benefits of trusts include: 

  • Trusts are private – Unlike wills, which are public record, trusts are private. Therefore, if you establish a trust, you can distribute your estate in private. 
  • Trusts allow for more control than wills – When you create a trust, you can set specific conditions for asset disbursement. 
  • Trusts are equipped to deal with unique situations – Trusts can be tailored to address a number of unique situations, such as pet care. 

Michigan Estate Planning Attorneys

Estate planning can be difficult, and it’s easy to overlook important steps when attempting to navigate the process. Therefore, we highly recommend that you consider contacting an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss your options. Establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Proper estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, but it can also significantly reduce the expense, delay, and frustration experienced by your loved ones upon your passing or incapacitation. If you’d like to begin the estate planning process, please contact one of our experienced Michigan attorneys for a consultation. 


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