Individuals work hard over their lifetimes to build and grow their family's personal assets. After a lifetime of dedication, it is important that they be given the opportunity to have a say over what happens to their family and the estate they have worked so hard to build.
An Estate Plan, drafted by a qualified estate planning attorney, makes sure that your wishes are respected after you can no longer make decisions for yourself, whether through death or incapacitation. Whether you want to help determine who has guardianship of your kids, where your assets go, or simply who makes decisions if you are incapacitated, a proper estate plan is necessary.
You can rely on the attorneys at Miller Cohen, PLC to help you organize and prepare your estate plan. Call our office today at (800) 221-6021 for a free initial consultation.
Crafting the Right Estate Plan
Estate Plans are not a one size fits all commodity. Estate plans should be carefully drafted to ensure that an individual's wishes are respected. This means a careful review of the individual's assets, their wishes, and their family dynamic. Estate Planning Attorneys then work with the client to put a plan on paper that reflects the wishes of the client. This includes the drafting of one or all of the following documents"
A will is the most basic estate planning document. A will is essentially instruction to the probate court as to how you want the judge to dispose of your assets. The extent to which a will operates is dependent on the rest of the estate plan. For basic plans, the will may be used to dispose of the client's assets, determine guardianship of your children, determine who runs your estate after death, and how your outstanding debts are to be handled. Wills are administered through probate court, meaning that once filed the documents become a matter of public record.
A trust is a legal document that creates a separate legal entity that can administer your assets after your death. Like a corporation, trusts survive the death of the owner. This allows individuals to have a say in how their assets are disposed of without going through the probate court. This means that individuals with a trust can rely their estate plan remaining private even after their death. It also means that the trust can remain in place for years, even decades after an individual's passing. This means that an individual can have more control over when and how their minor children gain access to their inheritance. It can also be used to promote extended charitable giving.
Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney is used to ensure that the individual of your choosing handles your financial affairs should you become incapacitated. If you fail to appoint a power of attorney, the court would need to appoint someone to manage your finances. The judge may appoint someone that is unfamiliar with you and/or your finances.
Healthcare Power of Attorney
A Healthcare Power of Attorney allows you to determine which individual will make health care directives for you should you become incapacitated. Through the drafting of these documents you can specify what life-prolonging treatments you want. Should your family have a conflict regarding what actions should be taken regarding your health care, this document will guide the doctors and the courts as to what your wishes are and who is empowered to make choices on your behalf.
No estate plan is complete unless there has been a review of your beneficiary designations for any retirement or life insurance plans. These assets typically pass outside of probate even without an estate plan. However, when drafting an estate plan, it is important to review these documents to be sure that the designations are properly filed with each company and that the designations fit within the rest of the estate plan as drafted.
If you have minor children it is imperative that you determine who would take guardianship of your children should you die or become incapacitated. As part of this determination you should review the individuals views on child rearing, their financial capacity to care for your children, and their desire to do so. If you fail to designate a guardian for your children a court could rule that your children live with a family member of whom you wouldn't have approved. In some cases, the court may even mandate that your children become wards of the state.
Contact a Metro Detroit Estate Planning Attorney
Drafting an estate plan is not something that individuals should do alone. You have worked too hard for what is yours. For a free consultation, please call 800-221-6021 or contact us online.