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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Wills vs. Trusts in Michigan

Many people believe that estate planning solely refers to drafting a will. While a will certainly has its place in an estate plan, it is far from the only estate planning instrument one should consider. In fact, wills have many disadvantages when compared with other estate planning instruments, such as living trusts. While each type of instrument allows you to distribute property in a manner of your choosing, there are significant differences between wills and trusts. In this article, we discuss the main difference between wills and trusts in Michigan.

The Main Difference Between Wills and Trusts: Probate

The primary difference between a will and a living trust in Michigan is that a will has to go through probate—a living trust doesn’t. Probate is the legal process through which the court ensures a deceased person’s debts are paid and assets distributed according to Michigan law. Here’s why that’s important:

Probate is expensive

The probate process is expensive. Legal fees, executor fees, inventory fees, and other costs must be paid before your assets may be distributed to your heirs. And if you own property in several states, your family may face multiple probates. Overall, probate is far more expensive than taking steps to avoid it through the estate planning process.

Probate is time-consuming

In Michigan, the probate process takes at least five months to complete. However, in some cases, it can drag on for years. A living trust enables your loved ones to avoid this long waiting period.

Probate is public

The probate process affords participants little privacy. Probate is a public process, so anyone can retrieve information about the size of your estate, who you owed debts to, and who will receive your assets. In addition, the probate process makes it easy for disgruntled heirs to contest your will.

Avoiding Probate in Michigan

As noted above, probate is something you should avoid, and a living trust can help you do just that. A living trust is a document that does not require any court intervention. The majority of living trust transfers take place in the privacy of your lawyer’s office. This allows for a cheaper, faster, and less stressful process than probate. In addition, a trust allows you to keep wealth transfers private; avoid court fees, taxes, and legal costs; reduce the risk of lawsuits; protect your family’s assets; control how and when your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries.

Contact our Michigan estate planning attorney today

If you’re ready to begin the estate planning process in Michigan, it is imperative that contact an experienced Michigan estate planning attorney. A Michigan estate planning attorney can assist you with all aspects of estate planning, including creating a living trust or a will. 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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