Estate Planning

West Michigan Estate Planning


Wills/Trusts
 
Wills and trusts are designed to provide for the distribution of estate assets at the time of one’s death. When deciding whether a will or trust best fits your needs depends on your particular circumstances. Revocable trusts are a popular alternative to wills in Michigan because of their ability to avoid probate administration. The importance of regularly reviewing your estate plan cannot be over-stated, especially as it pertains to trusts. An out-dated trust can be worse than having no trust at all because assets one holds may change, relationships with beneficiaries may change, etc.
 
Some individuals prefer to execute a will instead because they are much less complicated, easier to understand, and are not as expensive to have prepared. Furthermore, wills can successfully stream-line the probate process by providing a road map, or a guideline, as to how one desires to have their estate handled upon death. Thus, having a will can greatly minimize the court’s involvement in determining the handling of the estate of the deceased. On the other hand, a will, unlike a trust, may not adequately address your individualized needs. This is especially true if you are a business owner or if you have minor children. Additionally, if you own real property located in another state a trust may be beneficial in order to avoid ancillary probate in the other state. There are pros and cons to a will versus a trust. This is why it is essential to schedule a consultation with an attorney in order to assess which will best accomplish your objectives. 
 
Durable Power of Attorney
 
A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint an individual (referred to as an attorney-in-fact or agent) to manage your financial affairs and property. You have the option of making your Durable Power of Attorney effective immediately or you can choose to make it take effect in the future. Some individuals execute a Durable Power of Attorney for a limited purpose. For example, if one is traveling out of the country for an extended period that individual may choose to execute a Durable Power of Attorney so that the appointed person can manage their affairs while they are away.
 
Medical Power of Attorney
 
Medical Power of Attorney affords one the right to appoint an individual to make important decisions concerning medical care. It is common for medical professionals to require their patients to execute a Medical Power of Attorney particularly when undergoing major surgery. One of the key provisions typically contained in a healthcare directive pertains to what measures are to be taken to artificially prolong life in the event that you are unable to communicate. If you do not make sure the necessary document is not in place and you experience a medical emergency during a time when you are not able to convey your wishes your family and loved ones will be left to scramble to obtain court approval in order to address your health care needs.   
 
Once you are incapacitated it is too late to execute a Durable Power of Attorney / Medical Power of Attorney. That is why it is so important that you consider executing the necessary documents immediately if you have not already done so. The time and cost of having a Durable Power of Attorney / Medical Power of Attorney is likely to be far less than if the incapacitated person’s family is required to petition the court for a guardianship/conservatorship because of a failure to prepare the appropriate documents. The bottom line is that a Durable Power of Attorney / Medical Power of Attorney can avoid or greatly minimize the expense and time delays that can result when a court of law is required to intervene. 
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