One subject that many people are uncomfortable with is end of life planning. But if you choose to avoid the subject, then you may be leaving complex issues for your loved ones and family in the event of your death. And estate plans are not just about what happens when you die. If you become incapicitated and are unable to make decisions, then a good estate plan will have options in place to ensure you and your loved ones are well looked after.
There are a number of options available when it comes to thinking about your long-term and end of life plans. A good estate planning attorney will be able to guide you through these choices in greater detail.
- No plan. It is shocking to know that some 60% of Americans have no will or estate plan in place. If you die with no plan, your case will go to probate court. This can take both time and money.
- A will. Most people tend to think that a traditional will is the best option and it may well be for someone with minimal assets. It does allow for your wishes to be followed but if you have significant assets, your estate may face considerable taxes and your estate will still face the expensive process of probate.
- Putting assets and property in joint names. While this seems like an ideal way to ensure inheritance, Michigan laws on this area make it more complicated and it can attract high tax bills.
- Forming a Living Trust. This option is, by a long way, the choice that offers you the most control and also the best solutions. It gives you the choice to direct how any assets are distributed after death but also it will put in place plans and people in the event you suffer some form of incapacity. It also avoids probate and ensures all details remain private. This option is also ideal where you have a child with special needs as it can provide a detailed plan to ensure they are cared for.
Do I Really Need an Attorney?
Not in every case, no. But in cases where you do have significant assets, or where you have a family member who will need specialized care after your death, having an attorney who specializes in this area help you decide and design what your end of life plans are can be of major benefit.
Michigan Premier Law, P.C. can advise and assist with all required legal documents and relevant state laws. We can also give you information on what is the best choice to avoid any probate process.
Why Choose a Living Trust?
If you ask estate lawyers for legal advice on what is the best end of life plan then most will say a living trust. It offers many benefits before and after death.
- Privacy. Unlike a will, your living trust will not be part of public records.
- Control. The ownership of all your assets will be transferred into the trust and managed by a trustee. In most cases, that initial trustee will be you but you will also name someone to succeed you in the event of your death.
- Wishes. The living trust will follow your wishes after your death by distributing any assets to the individuals you have named in the trust.
- Probate. With a will, the process can take months and can be costly. If you have set up a trust, there is no probate and any assets can be quickly distributed.
- Security. Trusts are harder to challenge than wills, giving you peace of mind that your wishes will be properly carried out.
- Incapacity. If you are incapacitated, then there will likely be no need for guardianship or conservatorship proceedings so your well-being and finances will be looked after.
- Taxes. While Michigan does not have estate taxes, estates are liable for federal estate tax if the estate is worth more than $5 million. There are some complex trusts available that can avoid estate tax and your attorney can advise if these are applicable.
- Power of Attorney. A good plan will always incorporate designation of power of attorney as well as HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) authorization.
- Special needs. If you have a child with special needs, a will will not protect their financial well-being in the long-term as most services are needs based. Even a normal living trust will not offer full protection. However, creating a Special Needs Trust can ensure that your child will always have financial security while receiving the care they need. If you are in this situation, please ask a member of our team at Michigan Premier Law, P.C. to advise you on this.
Choosing a Good Estate Attorney
When it comes to choosing a competent estate planning lawyer, there are a number of factors to consider. Do they have extensive knowledge of all the relevant Michigan laws? Do they have experience of drawing up the different estate planning documents? Do their attorneys charge a flat fee or a fixed rate? And do they have experience in specific situations such as special needs estate planning?
A Final View
Here at Michigan Premier Law, P.C. we have been helping clients make plans regarding their assets and estates for many years. As we fully understand how difficult these subjects can be to discuss, we always advise our clients with empathy and understanding.
We also understand how important it might be for you to make reliable plans for any children with special needs and we will carefully guide you through this intricate process.
If you have any questions, or if you want to begin the estate planning process, then we offer a free consultation to all clients. If you would like to schedule an appointment to speak to one of our team, please call us today at (248)-687-1035.