Simple Estate Planning
Increasingly, people of all ages are coming to understand and appreciate the value of advanced estate planning, rather than allowing the probate court and Michigan’s succession laws to govern what happens to them in their final days and how their assets are dispersed according to their wishes after they pass away.
Powers of Attorney and Patient Advocate Designations: Directives for Life
Estate planning is not simply about what happens after you die. A simple estate plan includes documentation of precise instructions regarding management of your medical care and financial affairs in the event you are unable to make these and other decisions yourself.
Financial powers of attorney (POAs) designate the person – or persons – access to your bank accounts, investments, and other assets to manage your financial affairs while you are still alive.
Powers of attorney for medical purposes – also called patient advocate designations – allow you to decide who will make medical decisions on your behalf. These documents are most often paired with medical releases, which allow such individuals to receive protected information from doctors and hospitals to better manage your medical treatment and related decisions.
Do-not-resuscitate orders (DNRs) and living wills establish your desired end-of-life care, which provide your loved ones guidance and certainty when making these difficult decisions on your behalf.
By legally naming these people in advance, you will help your loved ones avoid the stress of petitioning for guardianships and conservatorships in probate court. You will also ensure that your selected representatives can act quickly to approve and pay for treatments and protect your assets should a need to do so suddenly arise.
Wills and Trusts: Controlling the Distribution of Assets
Estate planning also allows you to control to whom your assets will go, when, and under what conditions after you pass away. Depending on your individual circumstances, a will or a trust may be established to direct the distribution of your assets.
A will names an executor (or personal representative) whose job it will be to disperse your money, property, and other assets to named individuals and organizations according the terms of your will and the law upon your death. A precisely constructed will allows distributions to be made promptly after your death. Estate administration of a will must be supervised by the probate court, which resolves any disputes rendered ambiguous by the terms of your will or illegal under the law.
A trust can also be created to further direct how your assets will be used and distributed. A living trust can be established while you are still alive. Assets placed in a living trust are held for your beneficiaries, which often includes yourself and your spouse, and administered to meet your needs and expenses while alive. Upon your death, the trust continues as a separate entity, distributing assets to your intended beneficiaries according to your directions contained therein. Trusts can be set up to provide for dependents with special needs, to ensure your spouse is provided for upon your death, or to protect your estate from poor or compromised decision making by young or vulnerable heirs. A trust also passes automatically at death without the need for court administration and oversight.
Contact us to schedule your free consultation with an experienced probate attorney who understands comprehensive and proactive estate planning, and who will help you evaluate all available options to design a simple estate plan that’s right for you and your loved ones.
Schedule Your FREE Consultation