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Home, Assets, and Possessions: Do You Have a Plan?

Your estate plan incorporates the many unique facets of your life. But all estate plans, regardless of the size of your family, your individual wishes or your perception of your wealth, should have a plan for distributing your home, assets and possessions. This gives you the freedom to allow your loved ones to honor your wishes after you’re gone and it also helps to protect your family.

While estate planning is not always an easy topic to broach, it’s always an important one. This is because it’s the process of anticipating and arranging for an estate’s disposal over the course of life to eliminate uncertainties and also maximize your estate value by streamlining the transfer of assets to beneficiaries. This can help to reduce expenses, including estate taxes.

There are numerous benefits associated with estate planning, particularly when you undertake it at an early age and continue to revise your plan over the course of time. Some of the most common advantages of estate planning include:

  • Direct charitable donations
  • Trust management establishment for your loved ones
  • Clear directives on what you want to happen to your property
  • Eliminating or reducing gift and estate taxes
  • Minimizing the administrative costs for handling your estate after you pass away
  • Protecting your estate from creditor claims, claims from those outside the family or mismanagement

Schedule a consultation with a trusted estate planning lawyer so you can walk through some of the most important aspects of your estate planning and the opportunities ahead of you. At our Michigan law office, we can guide you through the big picture and the details of your estate plan.


Estate Planning 101 On A Yellow Legal Pad

What’s the Difference Between a Living Trust and Power of Attorney?

When it comes to estate planning, there are some basics that everyone should have, but there are also some tools you might or might not need depending on your individual goals.

A living trust gives a person known, as a trustee, the ability to use your money for certain expenses, such as those from a hospital, but it does not give them clear direction about the kind of medical decisions you’d like to make. This is where a power of attorney document can be more beneficial.

A power of attorney, when appropriately drafted by a lawyer, can give a person the permission to use assets for your medical care and to give them instructions about the type of medical care you’re willing to undergo. You might have personal feelings that should be documented and explained to your power of attorney agent.

For example, if your heart were to stop you might not wish to be resuscitated. Other people might have strong beliefs about donating or not donating their organs. A power of attorney allows you to make these important decisions, in addition to providing assets with which to pay for them.

A living trust is very beneficial for dividing certain assets after you pass away or even while you’re still alive, but it does not allow other people to make health care decisions for you. You need a separate document for that, known as a durable power of attorney. For more questions about making medical decisions and appointing people to make these crucial care choices for you, schedule a consultation with a Michigan estate planning lawyer.


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How Many Americans Made Changes to Their Estate Plan in the Pandemic?

Questions about financial management if something happens to you, your overall health care desires, and the structure of your estate plan have become top of mind for plenty of individuals and American families in recent years. A recent survey found that two thirds of Americans stated that the pandemic has made them think about their own mortality and 7 in 10 respondents said they have reorganized at least one financial component of their life as a result.

These areas included employment situations, long term savings and investments, emergency savings and life insurance. Prior to the pandemic, only one third of Americans had a will in place. However, nearly 3 in 10 respondents to this survey said that they made changes to their estate plan during the pandemic, put it in place after the pandemic or are in the process of creating one in the near future. Reassessing these financial aspects of your life and making important financial decisions can make things easier for you and your loved ones in a time of crisis.

If you didn’t update your estate plan yet, the pandemic might be a good reminder that things can change in your life quickly. A sudden illness or accident could mean that you’re unable to speak for yourself. The loss of a spouse could make things difficult for your family when you’re trying to provide for children and navigate the legal complexities of a lack of estate planning.

For further information about the estate planning process, schedule a call with an estate planning law firm that has helped many individuals and families address these important questions.


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Is It Safe to Use a POA Form Found Online?

A simple Google search for a power of attorney in your state will present a variety of POA forms that can be found online. While it is certainly possible for you to fill out or print this documentation, it is ill advised to use for a variety of reasons.

A power of attorney should be created with your specific situation in mind. This is due to the fact that you are likely bestowing on your attorney in fact a great deal of power to make financial and care decisions on your behalf.

You should always have a power of attorney that is custom drafted by a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer so that it can be aligned specifically with your circumstances. Getting a power of attorney document downloaded for free or for a fee on the internet could expose you to using a document that:

  • Is too ambiguous to be interpreted or used properly
  • Lacks important authorities that the document should contain
  • Is not current based on the laws and rules of your area
  • Does not represent details of your unique situation
  • Fails to meet the legal requirements of your state

An ambiguous power of attorney is one of the most dangerous aspects of executing a document that is not in line with what you need and fails to accomplish your individual goals. Schedule a consultation with a lawyer who is familiar with POA documents so that you can craft a document specific to your family. Your MI estate planning lawyer is here to support you.



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If Your Child Just Went Off to College, They Need a Power of Attorney

This year, sending a child off to college probably looks like none other. But it’s still equally important to do the necessary planning to ensure you’ve protected them, as well as you, in the event that you are the person they choose to make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated.

As a parent, you won’t necessarily be able to step in and handle matters for them unless they legally authorize you to do so. This could include things like renewing their insurance policies, filing their tax returns, initiating a lawsuit on their behalf or accessing their bank account to pay bills.

This requires a power of attorney. A power of attorney is a document that allows another person to act as your agent and conduct business on your behalf. And yes, if you have an 18-year old college student in your family, you will need a power of attorney to handle these types of activities for them. There are many types of powers of attorney including a healthcare power of attorney and a financial power of attorney. A healthcare power of attorney appoints an agent to make medical decisions on behalf of the creator, whereas a financial power of attorney addresses more of the issues mentioned above.

If you do not have a power of attorney and become incapacitated, your loved ones would have to file for guardianship to handle your financial and legal affairs. This can be a very complicated and frustrating process and it is one that is easily avoided by scheduling a consultation with an estate planning lawyer in Plymouth, MI.