While none of us like to think about end-of-life planning, it makes good sense to consider some form of estate planning, especially if you have substantial assets. Having a good estate plan in place protects the interests of your spouse, children, and other beneficiaries. This planning can also offer protection for you in the event you become incapacitated. If you have any family members with severe disabilities or special needs, an astute estate plan can ensure that they will always be well cared for.
When considering your end of life financial plan, you have several choices:
If you do absolutely nothing, all decisions will be made by a probate judge in the event of your death or incapacitation. If you die, your assets will go through death probate which can be complicated, time-consuming, and sometimes very expensive. If you are incapacitated, then guardianship and conservatorship will have to be granted.
While a Will is a good idea and allows your wishes to be followed in regard to your assets, your estate will still be liable for taxes and your assets will go to probate court. There are several steps to probate that can cause delays and high fees.
While this may appear a good solution at first, Michigan laws can make it a complicated process involving taxes and other hurdles. This option does not provide any protection in the case of you being incapacitated.
This is the best option available, and the one we recommend to most clients. By forming a Living Trust, you can give directions on who can control and handle your finances if you are incapacitated, and how your assets will be distributed after death. This process also helps to avoid death and lifetime probate, can eliminate any estate taxes, and can help maximize Medicaid planning.
Any good estate plan should also include a power of attorney (both financial and medical) and HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) authorization. The financial power of attorney allows someone to make financial decisions on your behalf if you are unable to, and the medical version does the same in relation to healthcare decisions.
The HIPPA authorization prohibits any medical provider from showing your medical records to anyone but your designated representative.
We fully understand that this can be a difficult and uncomfortable subject to discuss. Michigan Premier Law has been advising and helping clients with all levels of estate planning for many years. We can evaluate your circumstances in an empathic manner and give you advice on the best possible solutions.
With so many different options and potential complications from the probate process, making a good estate plan is the best way to protect you and your loved ones. We offer a free initial appointment where you can ask any questions. If you would like to book one, please call today at (248) 688-0045.
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