Most, if not all, of us, have never experienced a pandemic during our lifetime. The unknown is what I believe to be most difficult to understand. It has made me think more about the future and consider what might happen to my family’s circumstances if my husband or I was to become ill. So, after years of creating comprehensive estate plans for my clients, I finally created one for my family. During this time, I have helped many individuals, couples, and families create an estate plan, whether a Last Will and Testament or a Trust to ensure an orderly and legal transfer of their money and property upon their death or disability. Estate planning can also involve naming a guardian for a child in the event of a parent’s death or disability. Without an estate plan, state laws determine who will handle your money and property in the event of your disability or upon your death. This article pertains to Michigan Law and Michigan residents.
If you are considering an estate plan, there are a few basic decisions to be made before you begin:
- Who will take care of my money and property if I pass away or become disabled?
- Who will make health decisions for me if I become disabled or incapacitated?
- If you have children under 18, who will care for them and protect their money and property until they are of legal age?
Components of an Estate Plan
Once you have answers to these questions, we can begin drafting the documents needed for your estate plan should have. Every estate plan should include the following documents:
This document is a working entity that begins when you sign the Declaration of Trust. It specifies how your money, assets, and property are handled and distributed while you are alive and after death. If properly prepared, the Trust remains private and does not require the probate process.
Last Will and Testament
This document becomes legally binding on the date of one’s death. If circumstances change and you want to amend this document, and you are competent, it can be changed. Your will states who is to handle your estate through the probate process and who will receive your property. The downside to a Last Will and Testament is the necessity of the probate process, the costs involved, and the length of time that your assets can be delayed being distributed.
Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
This document appoints a person to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. You can name one or more individuals to act as your power of attorney.
Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Purposes (Money or Property)
This document appoints a person to handle your money and property, access bank accounts to pay bills and handle your personal financial matters.
Every Family is Different
In our office, we customize these documents to each client to suit each client’s individual situation. Estate planning documents simply copied out of form books or from templates found on the internet may not take all considerations into account. The consequence of improperly prepared estate documents can result in expensive litigation and delay.
Stephanie Krane-Boehmer is a family law attorney in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Contact Stephanie today to schedule a free consultation to determine which type of estate plan is best for your situation.