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Should Michigan residents have a trust if they have a will?

Whether a Michigan resident has a living trust as part of his or her estate plan depends on the desires of that individual. A will distributes assets after death to whomever the maker of the will instructs. A living trust accomplishes the same thing, but it can also ensure the grantor is taken care of financially in the event he or she becomes incapacitated.

A will only comes into play after death and must go through probate before any distribution of assets can be made. A living trust holds a person's assets during their lifetime, and a trustee can administer the trust on that person's behalf. In addition, upon death, the assets that are held in trust do not have to pass through probate before being distributed.

Like a will, a living trust ought to be reviewed periodically in order to make sure it is up-to-date. Major life changes such as marriage, divorce or the birth of a child may signal a need for a review. These and other estate planning documents may be changed to reflect such changes. Any changes must be made according to Michigan law to ensure the documents will be valid when needed.

The need for a trust, in addition or as an alternative to a will, may depend on an individual's financial situation. It may be helpful to perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine if it would be advantageous. However, finances alone do not dictate the decision. The family dynamic could also be a deciding factor for many people.

Source: iberkshires.com, Estate Investment Planning is Not Just for the Rich and Famous, No author, Nov. 18, 2013

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