In a recent post on this blog, we discussed which of your family members are likely to receive your retirement funds after your death. To recap, it would usually be your spouse or adult children who receive your benefits from a 401(k) or Individual Retirement Account. However, you might have reason to worry that an ex-spouse would receive your retirement benefits, even if you have been divorced for years. How might you and other Detroit residents avoid the possibility of an ex receiving benefits that you would like to designate to more immediate family members?
Compared to other areas of law, estate and probate planning is pretty slow to change. However, the ubiquity of technology could open a new set of issues in estate planning. We have wishes for our tangible property including money, cars and houses - but what about digital property? Do you have an estate plan for the information you keep online?
After a family member passes on, his or her property and assets are given to the spouse, children and other beneficiaries according to a will or trust, or otherwise divided by the court. Retirement funds are treated in much the same way in Michigan and other states.
When a will has been written and witnessed, there is often little that Detroit residents can do if they disagree with its terms. If your parents decided to leave the family home to one of your younger siblings and divided the rest of their estate disparately, or left you out of the will entirely, the chances are high that a probate court would honor their wishes. Disputing a will might be costlier than what it is worth, as well. However, there are some instances in which you might have valid reasons to contest your loved ones’ wishes.
If you are just starting to think about your estate planning or if your wishes are relatively straightforward and simple, you might consider writing a will. This is usually a good idea for any adult in Detroit and elsewhere. It can help to understand the elements that make up a basic will.