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Estate Planning Process

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Steps In The Estate Planning Process

Estate planning is planning ahead to guide your family on how to handle your affairs after you have gone.  It protects your property, making sure assets go where you want them to, and your family, making sure that they are well cared for after you’ve passed.

Consultation

When creating an estate plan, there are many different assets you will need to consider, including both intangible and physical assets. Talk to an attorney before continuing to ensure you fully understand your options.

Determine Need for an Estate Plan

The old cliché used to be that if you didn’t write a will, the state would write one for you through intestacy laws.  Much the same thing is true of an estate plan.  As you and your spouse get old, some tasks that used to be easy become hard.  And, if you lose your spouse, some matters, like medical decisions, can become even harder.  Having a complete, overall estate plan can anticipate and resolve all these issues.

Understand Options

Estate planning isn’t just about having a will anymore.  It can involve your retirement, your business succession, significant charitable donations, planning for healthcare and disability, leaving a legacy, and planning for gifts.  A Michigan estate planning attorney can help you figure out how to handle any of these that apply to you and your family.  

Collect Information

Gather information on your assets, both physical and intangible, and other considerations. A few assets to keep in mind include your life insurance policy, mutual funds, stocks, business assets and individual retirement plans.

Special Considerations in Your Michigan Estate Plan

  • Children:  Do you have minor children or no children?  Both conditions suggest that you need an estate plan.  You will need to appoint a guardian and perhaps create a trust to provide financially for the minors.  If you have no children, you’ll need to figure out who you want to make your heirs and arrange for help with medical and financial matters as you get older.  You can do that with financial and medical powers of attorney in your estate plan.
  • Medical Issues:  Make sure to have a living will, health care directive, and health care power of attorney in your estate plan.  Otherwise, someone will make healthcare decisions that you don’t want and might not approve of.  
  • Home and Other Assets:  An estate plan, sometimes using a trust, can keep all your significant assets out of probate and move them to your heirs more quickly.  
  • Business Assets:  Make sure someone you approve of will be running your business after you.  Put a succession plan in place.  Arrange through life insurance or other assets to keep the company together if your family will continue to run it.
  • Blended Families:  Today’s family mix of children who are yours, mine, and ours calls for careful estate planning.  Each of you will want to make sure that the right children get the right things.  Otherwise, the state will make those decisions.  
  • Special Needs:  If you have a child with special needs, you can deal with those needs in your estate plan.  Set up a special needs trust to ensure that the child will continue to receive the quality of life you intended.  

Appoint Fiduciaries

A fiduciary is an appointed individual who has a legal responsibility to continue duties of the estate plan in the case that the original party cannot do so, such as after death. This individual is tasked with supporting your best interests as outlined in your estate plan.

Review and Revise Your Estate Plan

As life changes, your estate plan may need to be updated. An attorney can help you make necessary modifications to better suit your ongoing needs. Divorce, the birth of a child, getting a new job and other major life events can impact your plan.

Contact A Michigan Estate Planning Attorney Today

It’s always easy to put off making an estate plan.  But, as you get older, the problems and issues can get bigger.  The best plan for your estate is to contact a Michigan estate planning attorney today and begin the process of securing your estate for your heirs. 

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