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Oakland County MI Estate Planning Law Blog

Helping to ease the probate process

We do a wide variety of things to protect ourselves. We take precautions, make detailed plans, purchase insurance and even set up security systems. However, what about taking steps that also protect our loved ones at the same time. When it comes to your assets and property, it is important that these are passed on to the correct heirs and beneficiaries. Thus, wills and trusts are drafted to memorialize your wishes, ensuring that they occur at the time of your death.

Many individuals draft an estate plan with the idea that it will help them avoid probate. While it is possible to avoid the probate process, it is not something to be feared or avoided completely. At the Prince Law Firm, our experienced attorneys are well versed in the probate process. Thus, we are dedicated to helping Michigan residents understand the process as it relates to estate planning or the administration of the estate of a loved one.

The process of contesting a will and how to respond

Wills are an important part of an estate plan designed to distribute the estate and prevent conflict concerning how the estate will be distributed. They are also designed to ensure that the wishes of the party executing the will are honored and to provide peace of mind for the party executing the will and their family members. At times, however, it may be necessary to initiate a will contest or defend against a will contest to protect the rights of a beneficiary or other party.

To help avoid a will contest, thorough estate planning that includes all the necessary documents and meets all the necessary legal requirements is needed. It can be equally important to know how to respond when a will contest arises or is needed. Wills may be contested for a variety of reasons which are the same reasons it is important to have a valid will and comprehensive estate plan.

Ways to avoid the probate process

Developing an estate plan can serve many purposes for residents in Michigan and elsewhere. While the documents contained in an estate plan could help individuals and their heirs sort through difficult decisions at the time of or after a loved one's death, it is important to understand that by simply drafting an estate plan, the probate process can be bypassed or eased.

Many are under the impression that just because an estate plan exists, heirs will not have to go through the probate process. This is a common misconception. And having a will alone certainly means that heirs and beneficiaries will have to go through the probate process to recover the property or assets passed onto them.

Probate process makes celebrity's will contents known to public

Jerry Lewis was a popular entertainer that appealed to individuals across different generations. Michigan fans of the recognizable star may have been surprised to learn that he passed away just last month from heart failure. Lewis was 91-years-old at the time of this death and left behind a wife, six children born from a prior marriage and an adopted daughter from his current marriage.

All of Lewis's children were adults at the time of his death but they were not all treated equally when the entertainer's last will and testament was revealed during the probate process. Pursuant to Lewis's will, his children from his first marriage were intentionally denied any inheritance from his estimated $50 million estate.

Trust used as an important estate-planning vehicle

It is common to want to pass on your belongings to your loved ones upon your death. But when it comes to your important financial accounts and property, you want to make sure this pass your assets along to your heirs and beneficiaries without any issues or pitfalls. One vehicle frequently used to address these problems is a trust. A trust can be a very important estate-planning document, making it important for individuals to understand what role it could play in their lives.

A trust is a written document that not only details the asset or property being passed on, it signals who will receive the named property and when the transfer will occur. When a trust is established, a trustee manages the contents of the trust. A trustee could be anyone, but an individual should carefully consider who to name as trustee because it can be a demanding role that some individuals are not willing to take on.

Common problems associated with “cookie cutter” wills

When it comes to creating your will, you may feel tempted to take the “easy” route and find a template version online that you can fill out and be on your way. Nowadays, it is not difficult to find a do-it-yourself will, but given the importance and permanent nature of the document, is it really worth cutting corners?

Ultimately, what might save you a few bucks and some time may come back to bite you in the long run, and this is because there are numerous problems that can arise when you try and create your own will. For example, when you opt for a DIY will, you run the risk of:

How can professional collaboration help with will drafting?

Creating an estate plan is likely not a one-person job. Even for a single individual, the process can be complex and confusing. Thus, involving family members and experts in the process can be beneficial. Even when it comes to drafting what may seem like a simple will, one needs to consider any tax implications of the document, as well as any conflicts that could exist. And while including certain experts in the will drafting of estate planning process is beneficial, the benefits of the experts are better experienced when everyone communicates and works together.

How can professional collaboration help with will drafting? Accountants, financial planners and attorneys can be very resourceful throughout the overall estate-planning process. However, the benefits experienced by these experts can be limited if these experts do not work together. A lack of communication could lead to something being overlooked, which could be detrimental to your estate's finances.

Even when you are single, drafting a will is important

Assessing and protecting your finances is a crucial step to take throughout your life. While certain life events, such as marriage, the birth of a child, and retirement tend to signal an individual to begin this process, Michigan residents should note the importance of drafting a will long before these events occur.

While the vast number of will-drafters are married and have children, this does not mean it is only designed to help these individuals. In fact, financial advisors often help unmarried clients hone in on the important factors to include in their wills. Instead of focusing on a spouse, children, and other family members, these individuals' wills can be tailored to meet their specific needs.

Less obvious signs of undue influence to watch for

As you get older in Michigan, you may need to rely more on others to continue enjoying your quality of life. This can make you susceptible to manipulation and undue influence.

You may not recognize when someone is manipulating you to their benefit. Undue influence is a form of abuse and financial exploitation. Encourage your loved ones to keep watch for the following signs so they can take action to prevent a manipulator from unreasonably benefiting from your estate. 

Helping you understand your options when it comes to trusts

Protecting your finances and safeguarding your loved ones are important steps to take in your lifetime. Individuals in Michigan could accomplish this through estate planning and by creating a trust that specifies their wishes. While the task might seem daunting and something that can be pushed until off later in life, it is certainly a step that should be taken as soon as possible.

No one wants to place a loved one in a vulnerable situation, especially when it comes to them experiencing estate taxes, income taxes, and probate fees after your death. At the Prince Law Firm, our experienced lawyers understand that many individuals are put off by the complexities of trust. However, we are dedicated to explaining the benefits of these instruments, helping individuals in the Detroit area protect the future of their heirs and beneficiaries.

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