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Estate planning is more than a will and can be complex

There are many aspects to creating an estate plan that many people are familiar with; however, some people create a will and leave the estate planning at that. It is important for everyone in Michigan to know that there is a lot more to making an estate plan than simply writing down who gets what.

As part of your estate plan, you will have to decide if you want to establish trusts to deal with some of your assets. If that is a part of your estate plan, you will need to decide who to name as trustee over the trusts. The trustee must be someone who can keep detailed records of all transactions related to the trust. This person also has to pay taxes for the trust, keep the assets secure, ensure the assets are maintained properly, pay the insurance on the assets and collect rent and other payments on behalf of the trust.

Another consideration is who to name as executor over the estate. This must be someone who is detail oriented and trustworthy. This person has the responsibility to make sure the will goes through probate so the assets aren't tied up in probate court. This person also have to pay the estate's bills, file taxes, inventory the assets and distribute assets according to the will.

Setting up powers of attorney and making medical care wishes known are also essential components of estate planning. A durable power of attorney takes care of your finances if you are unable to do so yourself. A power of attorney for health care can make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them.

On top of those powers of attorney, you also need to consider creating a living will, as well as completing other medical decision forms. While Michigan is one of the states that hasn't passed a law pertaining to the acceptance of living wills, according to Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, it is important to complete one because a court ruling did say that living wills are binding in the state. You also have the option of completing a Do Not Resuscitate order or a Declaration of Anatomical Gift form if you so desire.

As you can see, estate planning in Michigan is complex. Understanding the pertinent laws can help you to ensure your wishes are conveyed in a legal manner.

Source: Real Vail, "Beyond wills: other essential elements of estate planning" Bruce Hemmings, Jun. 02, 2014

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