A will is a formal way of setting forth your wishes regarding how you would like your property distributed upon your death. In order for a will to be valid, it must meet certain legal requirements. Choosing an experienced estate planning attorney is important. An experienced attorney can help you plan properly and help you avoid any financial and emotional turmoil of having your will contested or other legal problems that may occur after you die.
You should consider a will whether you are single, married, have minor children or own even a small amount of personal assets or property. In fact, every adult should have a will or other means to control the disposition of their assets. If you have not formally stated your intentions, your estate may meet unnecessary and costly litigation, adding to the grief experienced by your survivors.
If you have a will, you decide how your estate will be distributed after you die. You can make provisions for the people and charities that are important to you. You can also choose the personal representative (also known as executor) who will be in charge of handling your estate. Parents of minor children can name a guardian to care for their children in case both parents die.
You can change your will whenever you want to, as long as you are able to understand what you are doing. You should plan to have an attorney review your will every three to five years or whenever there is a major change in your life, such as getting married, getting divorced, beginning or ending a domestic partnership, having (or adopting) a child, or making a significant change in your assets. Getting married or divorced usually revokes all or part of your will, but may not be effective for disposition of certain assets covered under ERISA. If you get married or divorced or have other major changes in your life, you may also want to update your Durable Power of Attorney and your Advanced Directive for Health Care.
It can be difficult making sure that your assets are managed in the way that you intend after your death or in the event you become incapacitated. A trust can accomplish this and can also alleviate the burden on your family of dealing with administrative, legal and investment issues during already difficult times. A trust has several other advantages including avoiding probate court proceedings, maintaining privacy, saving estate taxes, and ensuring that your assets continue to be managed properly.
A trust is a legal relationship in which assets are transferred (by re-titling them into the Trust) through a trustee, to be used for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The individual that establishes the trust is called the settlor, grantor, creator, or trustor. Upon accepting the assets as the trustee, the trustee undertakes the obligation to control the assets and use them in accordance with the settlor’s directions. Generally, these directions are set forth in writing along with the other terms of the trust.
Well chosen words can ensure that your intentions and planning objectives are met. An experienced estate planning attorney can help create the best estate plan for you and your family.
Most people are aware of the fact that they should have a will or estate plan so that upon death, their estates can be administered and distributed promptly and efficiently. However, most people fail to plan adequately for a lifetime disability. You should be concerned about the possibility of a disability, that is, your inability to legally handle your affairs (business, financial, and personal). Disabilities can arise from a number of different causes such as stroke, injury, accident, old age, or the inability to locate or contact you. Who will handle your affairs if you are unable to do so?
In such cases, Michigan law provides for a probate court proceeding to have an individual or bank appointed to act for you. These conservatorship proceedings involve time, expense and perhaps even the embarrassment of trying to prove that you are mentally incompetent. Furthermore, you do not have the assurance as to whom the court will appoint.
A document giving a relative, friend or a bank the power to act for you – an ordinary power of attorney – is automatically revoked (it is no longer valid) if you become incompetent – at the time when your family would need it most. The Michigan legislature solved this problem by creating a “Durable Power of Attorney” which remains in effect even if you become disabled.
A Durable Power of Attorney is an important part of estate planning and should be considered. It can save you and your family time, expense and the inconvenience of a probate court proceeding.
Decisions about medical care can be among the most difficult and personal decisions that an individual can face. Most people have strong opinions about the type of care they may want in certain situations. Sometimes, their mental and physical condition is such that they are no longer able to voice their own opinions. A legal document called a Patient Advocate Designation allows individuals to designate another person in advance to make medical treatment decisions for them in the event that they become unable to make these decisions for themselves due to a mental or physical condition.
Patient Advocate Designations are the only Michigan legal document by which an individual can designate another person to make medical treatment decisions for them. Anyone 18 years old or older who is of sound mind and not under duress, fraud or undue influence at the time of signing can execute a Patient Advocate Designation.
The Patient Advocate has a duty to act in the patient’s best interests and based on the incapacitate person’s intentions. The Patient Advocate has the duty to take reasonable steps to follow the patient’s expressed desires, preferences and instructions.
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The information presented within this website is for general information purposes and is NOT and should not be considered as being “legal advice”. You should not act on any information presented herein without the verifying same with your attorney or lawyer.