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Detroit Probate, Trust & Estate Administration Law Blog

What are some myths regarding living trusts?

Living trusts are a great estate planning tool. However, it’s important to understand exactly how trusts are created, as well as what they can do, to ensure your needs are met. There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding living trusts, which The Balance attempts to dispel with the following information.

Can a trust help you avoid probate?

3 things you should know about being a trustee

If one of your loved ones asks you to manage his or her trust, you may feel honored and thankful. Being a trustee is a major responsibility. Someone you love and appreciate chooses you to oversee and administer his or her precious assets and wealth. 

Even if you are financially adept and responsible, you may have some difficulty understanding all the duties of being a trustee. Here are some core guidelines for fulfilling your obligations as a trustee

Stepparents, stepchildren and probate disputes

There are a wide variety of legal matters that may need to be taken into consideration when it comes to probate disputes, and no two are exactly identical. Some can be especially difficult from an emotional point of view, such as a dispute that pits family members against each other. Furthermore, there may be certain situations in which family members experience especially negative feelings with one another. For example, a stepchild may be upset with his or her stepparent who is in charge of an estate plan. Or, a stepparent may find themselves in the middle of a disagreement involving their stepchild.

Whether you are a stepparent or a stepchild, a beneficiary or the executor of an estate, it is pivotal to focus on successfully resolving these conflicts while minimizing the damage with respect to your loved ones. Probate disputes have torn families apart and it is beneficial for all parties if those involved take steps to reduce tensions. Sometimes, people may have hard feelings toward a family member for some other reason, and these bitter feelings can prompt them to take action when it comes to an estate plan.

Uncertainty as the executor of a will

If you have been placed in charge of a loved one's estate plan, you may have uncertainty for a number of reasons, whether your loved one recently passed on or they just informed you that they decided to name you as the executor of their will. This is understandable and there are all sorts of factors related to estate plans that can give rise to uncertainty. However, by discussing this issue with your loved one if they are alive, or consulting a legal professional if they have passed away, you may be able to ease some of your concerns.

As the executor of a will, you have important responsibilities. You should feel honored that your loved one decided to place you in charge of his or her will and you should do your best to ensure that their estate is handled properly. You should be thoroughly aware of your responsibilities as the executor and you may want to prepare for certain challenges that could surface down the road. For example, you may find yourself in the middle of a dispute with a beneficiary over the way in which assets were distributed.

Probate disputes over the wording of an estate plan

We have covered some of the common reasons why probate disputes arise and the various challenges that people may face when they are in this position. However, it is important to realize that there are many other factors that can play a role in probate disputes. For example, a disagreement may arise over an estate plan's wording or the way in which an estate plan was set up. Sometimes, these disputes arise over someone's genuine disagreement or confusion, while others may be the result of someone intentionally trying to disrupt the process. Either way, it is important to be prepared, especially if you are in charge of the estate.

Probate disputes may surface when beneficiaries feel that their rights have been violated, such as a beneficiary who believes that they did not receive something which was supposed to go to them. Sometimes, people may have confusion as a result of the wording of an estate plan, and this can result in varying interpretations. Disagreements over the wording of an estate plan can become hotly contested and may lead to strong emotions. If you have become upset, this is understandable, as probate disputes can be very difficult to work through. However, you should strive to maintain your emotions and stay focused.

What are some tough estate planning questions I should know?

Many people in Michigan approach estate planning reluctantly. After all, it can be difficult to face the topic of one’s own mortality as well as other difficult decisions, such as those involving your kids. In this case, Forbes recommends anticipating the following tough questions to ensure you’re fully prepared for the process.

Have you disclosed all personal relationships?

Estate planning after a health scare

Some people set up an estate plan because they are simply looking to the future and want peace of mind, while others experience an unexpected crisis which prompts them to create a trust or will in order to protect their assets. For example, a health scare may cause someone to set up an estate plan much sooner than they were expecting. If you have recently suffered a medical emergency that you did not see coming, it is crucial to not only protect your health but your finances as well. These situations may also cause people to create an estate plan at a relatively young age.

From a cancer diagnosis to a heart attack or an injury that results in permanent immobility, there are many different ways in which lives can change abruptly. Not only can a health scare cause someone to worry about their assets and how they would be distributed among those they love if they should pass away, but it can even change the rest of someone's life from a financial angle. From excessive medical debt to losing the ability to work any longer, people may need to rethink their own financial future after a health scare, which may necessitate the modification of an estate plan.

Who should I select to manage my trust?

When creating a trust in Michigan, you’ll need to select a person to administer it. This person will be responsible for a number of duties, from managing property owned by the trust to ensuring beneficiaries receive their allotment of assets. To make sure your trust is in the right hands, TheBalance.com offers the following tips.

Institutional trustees offer certain protections

Reducing tensions during a probate dispute

Probate disputes may occur because a beneficiary believes that the executor of an estate has failed to live up to their fiduciary duties, or for some other reason. It is, of course, a good idea to prevent probate disputes altogether, and we have gone into detail on some of the reasons why these disagreements arise within families. Sometimes, disputes surface no matter what, and when this happens it is essential to do what you can to work toward a positive outcome.

Whether you are an executor or beneficiary directly involved in a dispute or you are related to family members who are going through a dispute, it is important to look for ways to reduce tensions during this tough time. First of all, some disputes can be resolved in a more amicable manner by increasing communication and understanding between those who are in a dispute. Sometimes, seeing the other person's point of view and discussing the situation with them can be helpful. However, this certainly does not work out well for everyone and is not even a possibility for some people.

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