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Oakland County MI Estate Planning Law Blog

Important details to consider when drafting a will

No matter your age or current health status, this should not lessen the importance of taken specific measures to complete an estate plan. While younger individuals may not be able to utilize all estate planning documents right away, there is one essential document for everyone to complete long before they are elderly, frail and unable to properly draft the document. A will is an essential document that protects the interests of an individual in they become incapacitated and memorializes an individual's wishes with regards to asset distribution to heirs and beneficiaries.

If you are mentally prepared to initiate and complete the will drafting process, there are some important details and factors to consider. Taking these pointers into consideration will help with your decisions to draft a will at the right time and ensure that you include all important details.

Helping you through the will drafting process

There are few tasks that Michigan residents can complete that are as important and effective as drafting a will. While this can be a difficult process to initiate, especially for younger individuals, it is a crucial step to take. A will is a powerful document and is one of the only ways to legally express your wishes following your death or incapacitation. Thus, taking the time to carefully construct this document is imperative.

Although thinking about death is unpleasant, this is no reason to rush the process. In fact, the will drafting process requires individuals to consider many aspects of their life and what they intend in the future. This can take some time to finalize. At our law firm, our goal is to make the will drafting process as painless as possible. We do our best to understand the needs and desires of our clients, ensuring these wishes are memorialized in the legal document.

What steps can you take to avoid probate?

As a previous post highlighted, the estate planning process often revolves around various desires and expectations. For some residents in Michigan, this means carefully drafting an estate plan so that they can avoid the probate process. While probate is not an entirely negative process that must be avoided, it can be long and costly. And, if you seek to help out your beneficiaries after your death, it is possible to take specific measures to help ensure that probate can be avoided.

What steps can you take to avoid probate? In order to avoid probate, a testator must take the time to transfer assets out of the probate process. There are four ways to accomplish this process and to pass your property on to your heirs and beneficiaries without the involvement of the probate system.

What to do when a trustee is not doing their job

When a loved one dies in Michigan, and you learn that he or she left behind a legacy, you naturally have the expectation that he or she chose the right person to manage his or her estate. However, if the choice for executor is not honoring his or her fiduciary duty to the testator and other beneficiaries by following the instructions outlined in the testator’s will, you may find yourself wondering what you can do to rectify the situation. After all, doing nothing and waiting and hoping that the executor gets his or her act together can cause you and the other beneficiaries to miss out on your inheritances. 

Here is a brief overview of what you can do when an executor breaches their fiduciary duty

Considering ways to avoid probate when drafting an estate plan

Avoiding probate is a common desire by many testators. Therefore, it is important to understand how this could be accomplished and whether taking such measures is in the best interests of the estate plan.

When a person dies, their estate will, in most cases, need to go through the probate process. This is a legal process that involves the court-supervised distribution of assets. Because this process can be expensive and time consuming, many individuals seek to design their estate plan to help loved ones avoid the process altogether.

Estate plans make wishes known, remove stress

While thinking of one's demise is certainly not the most pleasant thought, having all Ts crossed and Is dotted is crucial to everyone's life plan. A solid estate plan can be an extremely helpful in the event of a family member's death in that it can remove the stress of the unknown. Even with its helpfulness, however, there are still many aspects estate planning that may be less understood than others.

Estate planning concerns the detailed breakdown of one's assets and property. Perhaps more importantly, however, is the power an estate plan can have after one has died. These plans detail the wishes of an individual in the event of death or incapacitation. This is usually done with the assistance of an attorney so that the protections and designations of the estate are sound and can be confirmed.

What are the risk factors for undue influence?

Making changes to a will is a common experience, but sometimes these changes are caused by undue influence. International Psychogeriatrics published research outlining the risk factors for undue influence in older people, but first, the legal construct must be defined. “To be undue influence in the eye of the law there must be – to sum it up in a word – coercion. The coercion may of course be of different kinds, it may be in the grossest form, such as actual confinement or violence, or a person in the last days or hours of life may have become so weak and feeble that very little pressure will be sufficient to bring about the desired result.” 

It may take a legal advocate to help you demonstrate that a loved one’s will was unduly influenced, but most wills written under undue influence begin from one of the following relationships: 

  • An adult child who cohabits with the elderly person
  • A distant family member taking care of the person
  • A younger suitor taking advantage of the situation
  • A professional who helps an older person take care of his or her will 

Why are powers of attorney useful in an estate plan?

Deciding to draft an estate plan is a major decision, but it is also a very useful and important step to take. No matter your age, individuals in Michigan and elsewhere should take the time to assess their situation and determine what is best for them later in life. Making end-of-life decisions is not easy for anyone, but it has become a necessary step to ensure our needs and interests are protected.

While a living will is an important document to draft when it comes to estate planning, there are other documents that can supplement a will or even provide a vital role on its own. Thus, individuals should consider the role a power of attorney could play and why it is important to include them.

Understanding the different types of trusts

The needs and goals of each person can be met through estate planning, but this does not require each and every estate planning document to be included. One document that individuals in Michigan might want to know more about is a trust.

There are various types of trusts, and each trust type can accomplish different tasks. Depending on what people seek to achieve, they might require one, several or no trusts in an estate plan. To begin, it is important to note that a living trust can either be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust is when the creator retains control of all the assets within the trust, and they can change things at any time.

What happens when a loved one leaves behind two wills?

It is important for people in Bloomfield Hills to be careful and diligent when planning their estates. It is not unusual for people to update their wills when life events happen, such as the birth or death of family members, changes in income and assets, and changes of heart as to who they want to inherit their property. But, if a situation arises where someone dies and leaves behind multiple wills, loved ones may be confused about how to handle the situation.

Here is a brief overview of what happens when there are multiple wills.

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