Will, trust, and estate law is very complex.
That’s why when you are looking to get an estate plan drafted; you should seek the assistance of an estate planning attorney.
These attorneys focus their practices on estate law and advise their clients on how to best protect their family and assets in the event of death or incapacity.
There are a lot of different documents that an estate planning attorney can draft for you to help you achieve your estate planning needs.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it should help get you started.
Last Will and Testament can help secure your family
This is one of the most popular estate planning documents in Michigan.
It allows you to protect your family and ensure that your assets are properly distributed to your loved ones after you pass away.
You can use a will to communicate who should get what assets and how much, who should be the guardian and conservator of your minor children, and who will be responsible for administering your estate after you die.
One of the major disadvantages of a last will is that your family will have to go through the probate court process in order to get access to your assets.
Some people think that a will avoids probate, when in reality it is your ticket to probate. If probate avoidance is a major goal, as it is with a lot of families, a living trust may be a better option.
A Revocable Living Trust may be better than a Last Will
A revocable living trust is also a very popular estate plan document because of the flexibility and protection it provides.
It serves much of the same function as a last will but provides ancillary benefits that a last will and testament does not.
For example, a living trust avoids probate so your family doesn’t have to go through a long and high-priced process just to get access to your assets.
It also comes into effect the moment it is signed which allows you to plan for circumstances where you may become incapacitated and unable to communicate.
Lastly, a living trust is private, so the value and transfer of your assets remains private unlike with a last will and testament.
Irrevocable Trust are used in special cases
These types of trusts are often used in special circumstances. Often times people who are planning for a family member who has special needs will get this type trust.
Additionally, individuals who are seeking a tax or credit shelter of some sort.
Irrevocable trusts are much more permanent that a revocable living trust meaning they can’t be changed once they are created.
Most people are able to achieve their estate planning goals with a revocable trust and often opt for these because they are able to be changed at any point prior to death.
It’s usually best to consult with an estate planning attorney, if you think you need an irrevocable trust as they are very complex and much more permanent.
A Living Will is important for incapacity planning
This type of document lets you define your end of life medical decisions in the event you are incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes yourself.
Think of it like a formal letter to your family listing your final medical wishes telling them how you would want to be taken care of.
Your living will explain the types of medical treatment you would or would not want in certain situations.
Having a living will in place takes a lot of stress off of your family because they know that they are acting according to your wishes.
Medical Power of Attorney
A medical power of attorney is frequently paired with a living will. The combination of the two is sometimes referred to as an advance directive.
This document gives the legal authority to someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated and can’t do so yourself.
Think of the living will as the instructions while the medical power of attorney is the authority to act on those instructions.
Uses for Financial Power Attorney
Like a medical power of attorney, a financial power of attorney is put in place in case you become incapacitated.
The financial power of attorney can give someone you trust access to your financial accounts to allow them to pay bills and make financial decisions on your behalf.
Often times this would be given to a spouse of someone your trust so they can pay medical bills and the expenses required so that your family can survive.
Estate planning is an important process that helps you make sure that your legacy is passed onto your loved ones in the most efficient way possible.
While most people think estate planning only plans for your death, a comprehensive estate plan also plans for incapacity.
This is important because it is very common for an individual to become incapacitated before they pass away.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the documents an estate planning attorney can help you draft, it is a good start.
If you are interested in getting one of these documents drafted, or you’re interested in getting a comprehensive estate plan in place, it’s best to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Over the past decade at Rochester Law Center, we’ve helped 1,000s of families draft wills, trusts, and estate plans.
Give us a call today at (248) 613-0007 to schedule an initial consultation.