Understanding estate planning in Michigan

Many people believe that they do not need to bother with estate planning. They feel that they do not have enough assets to worry about how these items should be passed along if an unfortunate event occurs. They fail to think about the impact that this would have on the family members that they leave behind, and some of the disputes that can frequently arise when there is no guidance on how a person’s final wishes should be carried out.

When do I need to start thinking about estate planning?

No matter what age you may be, or what property you may own, you need to have a comprehensive estate plan in place. You may have purchased a home or started a new job with a retirement plan, and you need to carefully state how each of these items should be treated when you pass away.

If you have children, you and your spouse need to discuss who should raise them in your estate planning documents in the event a tragedy happens. While these things are not pleasant to think about, taking the time to deal with these issues now can make things much easier for everyone in the future.

What will be included in a comprehensive estate plan?

Every person has unique estate planning issues that need to be considered when deciding what is best for his or her specific situation. Individuals should create advanced health care directives that specify the type of medical care they should receive if they are incapacitated. They may also appoint friends or family members who can make health care decisions and also control their finances if they are unable to make decisions due if they become incapacitated.

Other documents include wills, which can range from very simple to complex, that clearly state how property should be distributed to friends and family. In addition to wills, some individuals may need to create trusts to pass along their assets. These instruments can provide for the care of a loved one with special needs, or allow the individual to retain control over certain property or assets until they pass away.

What happens if I die without an estate plan?

Those individuals who do not have a will or other estate planning documents will see their property pass according to Michigan’s intestate laws. These laws specify who will receive what property, and this could result in property passing to unintended beneficiaries. It might also make it more difficult for family members to know what property belongs to the estate, as they will have to spend more time gathering this information. Since more individuals are banking online, the accounts can be much more challenging to track down. Estate planning allows this information to be easily available when necessary.

When should I update my estate plan?

Modifications to an estate plan should be made any time significant changes occur in a person’s life. This might be when a person gets married, is recently divorced, welcomes a new child or stepchild into the family, or experiences the death of a beneficiary listed in the will. Individuals will need to be either added or removed from the existing documents, or the estate could be passed down according to the old documents. In some cases, this could lead to serious problems if updates are not made in a timely manner.

Take time to create an estate plan that reflects your needs

Should you have questions or concerns about an issue relating to estate planning, contact an experienced attorney to learn more about your situation. Your attorney will be able to develop a plan that allows you to feel confident that your family will be protected after you pass away.