Estate Planning

We spend our whole live accumulating assets that have value, both real and sentimental. Yet so many people spend so little time determining that happens to these assets at the end of life. Maybe you care who get that purple vase that your picked up on your trip to Tuscany or maybe you want to make sure your grandchildren can afford college or that first house. A good estate plan can accomplish these goals and many more.

Most people think of estate planning as the preparation of a will, but it is often much more than that. For example, a Health Care Power of Attorney / Living Will can let your family and doctors know specifically what medical procedures should be undertaken or not undertaken if you are no longer able to make those decisions due to illness or incapacity. A Trust can allow you to pass assets to loved ones outside of the expensive and time consuming probate process. Properly done, organizing your assets through an estate plan can help avoid family fights and prevent a significant portion of your estate from going to the government later.

A few of the tools used in estate planning:

Will - A Will is a document that sets forth how you want to dispose of your assets after death. In the Will you nominate a personal representative to carry out your wishes as set forth in the Will, to make funeral arrangements and to represent the estate in the probate process. A guardian of minor children may also be nominated in the Will. Sometimes Wills are the primary tool of the estate plan but often they are used to supplement a Trust (a Pour-Over Will). You should also know that if you don't have a Will, the State of Michigan will make these decisions for you. If you die intestate (without a will) various Michigan statutes determine what happens to your assets.

Trust - The Trust is perhaps the most versatile and valuable tool in estate planning. There are many different kinds of Trusts to accomplish many different goals. For example a Dynasty Trust allows the creator of the Trust to skip over a generation (or more) to pass assets to grandchildren and beyond. An Incentive Trust directs the distribution of assets to a beneficiary only if certain goals are met or if certain behavior is avoided. A Special Needs Trust is designed to provide income to a special needs individual without disqualifying them from receiving benefits from governmental programs. There are but three of the many different types of rusts available to assist in planning an estate but you can see, Trusts can often be tailored to fit a very specific need.

Durable Power of Attorney - A Durable Power of Attorney is an agreement by which one person designates another to act on his or her behalf as the principal's attorney in fact. Generally this is done to give the agent chosen the power to sell assets, access financial accounts or otherwise manage the financial affairs of the principal. It is important to precisely list the authority that the agent will be able to exercise in the agreement.

Heath Care Power of Attorney / Living Will - As discussed above, the Power of Attorney for Health Care expressly allows an individual to appoint a patient advocate to make medical or mental health treatment decisions when the individual is unable to make the decisions for his or herself. A Living Will is a declaration that instructs doctors and others to withhold or withdraw life sustaining procedures or equipment when death is certain. The Heath Care Power of Attorney and Living Will should be considered together and are often incorporated into one document. Both of these documents are important tools for making end of life decisions easier on any family.

A well prepared estate plan is more than just a simple will that disposes of your assets at the end of life. With tools like the Power of Attorney for Heath Care / Living Will, the various types of Trust instruments and the Durable Power of Attorney, it is a way to protect and guide your loved ones in the event of death or incapacitation. You can't be sure what the future holds and you want to be as well prepared as possible. You should start with an estate plan tailored to your specific needs

When considering preparing an estate plate you need experienced legal counsel to advise you. Contact the Law Offices of Maynard F. Newman, PLLC at (810) 584-7068 to discuss your estate plan.

Maynard Newman represents clients in Michigan ranging from large corporate entities to single individuals and everything in between, specializing in Bankruptcy, Corporate Representation and Estate Planning.

Law Offices of
Maynard F. Newman, P.L.L.C.

10801 S. Saginaw St, Suite G
Grand Blanc, MI 48439
Phone: (810) 584-7068
Fax: (810) 746-0100

The Law Offices of Maynard F. Newman, P.L.L.C. serves Genesee and Oakland County including the areas of: Flint, Grand Blanc, Fenton, Burton, Davison, Flushing, Swartz Creek, and Holly Michigan.