Protect Your Assets and Family with Estate Planning
Your Michigan estate plan is a set of written legal documents that provide instructions on what you want to happen to your assets in the event of your incapacity or death.
A Michigan estate plan protects the things you worked hard for, like your home, vehicles, personal belongings, insurance plans, retirement accounts, and other valuable assets. Additionally, your estate plan determines how your assets will be distributed to your loved ones upon your death while reducing your tax liability and shielding your legacy from claims for nursing home expenses.
Everyone has an estate plan; we are all born with one. State law controls what happens to your estate if you fail to create legal documents to guide and inform your personal representative, agent, or loved ones. Your assets are not protected without a personalized plan. State laws for your assets rarely align with your wishes.
The team at Malicoat Law are experienced asset protection lawyers who help ensure proper asset protection for you and your loved ones.
Understanding Estate Planning in Michigan
Estate planning starts with understanding your long-term goals for you and your family. You may want to protect some assets and pass others on to your loved ones. Each estate plan is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of each individual. At Malicoat Law, our Michigan estate planning attorneys can help prepare the best combination of legal documents to achieve your personal estate planning goals.
Why is Estate Planning Vital?
Estate planning is essential for all ages, but as we age, the need for estate planning becomes more critical. An estate plan is necessary if you or your loved ones wish to control assets upon disability and/or death. It’s common for people to avoid estate planning because they don’t want to face the end of their lives, disability, or failing health. Many believe that an estate plan is only for wealthy people. However, a comprehensive estate plan is helpful to everyone, no matter their wealth.
You’ve worked hard, saved, and accumulated assets that took years to earn. Have you thought about what happens to those hard-earned assets should you need long-term care or upon death? An expertly designed estate plan will protect your assets from Michigan probate court and shield your property from claims arising from nursing home care. Our estate planning lawyers in Michigan focus on helping clients plan for a medical crisis or death, ensure their wishes are fulfilled, and loved ones gain peace of mind.
Consulting and planning with an estate planning attorney will take the guesswork out of estate planning and ensure all options are explored before moving forward with the best possible solution. Our qualified Michigan estate planning lawyers walk you through all the necessary parts of the estate plan, provide an explanation, and prepare the paperwork.
What Documents Do I Need for My Estate Plan?
This is a common question when creating an estate plan. The answer is that “it depends.” An experienced Michigan estate planning lawyer can advise you or a loved one on the necessary documents to protect your Michigan assets based on your situation. Some essential legal documents commonly used in an estate plan are wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills, and health care directives.
Your will specifies your intentions after you pass away. It appoints a personal representative of your estate who will manage the assets, pay debts, and distribute property as instructed. The will outlines the distribution of assets, but must go through Michigan probate court.
Trusts have the advantage of not having to go through probate. The property is still distributed at death, but no court action is required. When you create a trust, you can manage and control your property during your lifetime, and your beneficiaries receive the property after your death.
Trusts can be classified into two types – revocable and irrevocable. Each type of trust is designed to address a specific issue. They have specific purposes and advantages depending on your family’s circumstances.
Revocable Living Trust
There is no doubt that revocable living trusts are the most common type of trust. In most cases, the person who creates and funds the trust (grantor) acts as the directing trustee during their lifetime. During the grantor’s lifetime, they may undo the trust, change its terms, and move property and assets in or out of the trust.
Irrevocable Living Trust
An irrevocable trust is legally binding on its date of execution and allows very few changes to its provisions. Trustees are individuals named by the grantor to take care of and control the assets in their Michigan irrevocable living trust. The grantor can’t revoke the trust once it’s established. Irrevocable trusts have unique tax implications and other benefits, including protecting a person’s home and savings from the high cost of long-term care. These benefits make relinquishing control worthwhile in certain instances.
Powers of Attorney
Powers of attorney are critical parts of an estate plan. There are two main types that let you designate an agent to act on your behalf. They are a healthcare power of attorney and a financial power of attorney. A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint another person to make decisions related to financial matters, and a healthcare power of attorney allows you to appoint another person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
Living wills outline your wishes regarding end-of-life care. This document can include what medical treatments you would or would not have if incapacitated. Creating a living will takes the stress off family members during emotional and challenging times and preserve family harmony.
As with a living will, a healthcare directive lets you state what you want in terms of healthcare. In this legal document, you can appoint a person to follow your instructions or make decisions if you are incapacitated.
When Should You Start Estate Planning in Michigan?
Many estate planning lawyers in Michigan recommend starting an estate plan when you become a legal adult, then updating it every three to five years. Why start an estate plan at 18? When you turn 18, you become responsible for the decisions that affect your finances and healthcare.
Life changes affect your estate plan. Regardless of your age, these major life events are reasons to start or update your estate plan with one of our estate planning attorneys:
- Home or other property ownership
- Marriage, divorce, or remarriage
- Birth or adoption of children
- Inheritance of money or other assets
- Moving to a new state
- Grandchildren or other births in the extended family
Without an established estate plan, your assets are not protected. Michigan law controls what happens to your assets instead, which usually does not align with your intentions for your estate.
Your Michigan Estate Planning Attorney
Your estate planning attorney should help you plan for every stage of your life. As your children grow up, you marry or divorce, or sell or purchase a new property, your asset protection needs will change. Our Michigan law firm can help you create or update your estate plan to secure your assets and correctly pass on your legacy to loved ones.
Let us guide you or a loved one on the path of asset protection. Our law firm is built on strong client relationships, and we work hard to meet your estate planning goals. Your legal needs matter to Malicoat Law.
Malicoat Law is here to help you and your loved ones understand estate planning, elder law, business planning, and probate, as well as estate and trust administration. We welcome the opportunity to consult with new clients in cities such as Bay City, Auburn, Freeland, Saginaw, Mount Pleasant, Tawas City, East Tawas, Hale, or Oscoda.