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June 2013 Archives

What steps should you take to ease the probate process?

If our Michigan readers have a will, they are off to a good start with their estate plans. A simple will covers many basic estate planning needs, with many people simply leaving everything to their spouse and vice versa. Couples with minor children have an extra step to take, naming another person or couple to care for their children in the unfortunate event of the spouses' simultaneous death. Many of the steps taken in drafting a will go a long ways toward expediting the probate process, but are there other steps that can help? According to a recent article, there is a sort of "checklist" individuals and couples should look to when beginning to lay out their estate plan.

What are your needs when protecting inheritance?

"Let's keep things simple." This phrase is not only common, but also it is often good advice. Unfortunately for many Michigan residents who are thinking about strategies for protecting inheritance and solidifying tax planning, simplicity is often the last thing they think will come into play. When many people hear the terms "estate planning" and "living trust," they most likely think that things are about to get complicated. Fortunately, a recent article acknowledged this possibility and attempted to explain the benefits of considering a living trust as part of an estate plan.

Answering some basic questions about trusts

Caring for children with special needs, protecting inheritance, maximizing tax planning - these are all reasons that many people consider including trusts in their estate plans. There are more, obviously, because a trust can so often help provide a solution to a wide variety of estate planning needs. The problem for most people, perhaps even some of our Michigan readers, is that there is a certain air of mystery around trusts and trust administration, which can leave some people in a position where they do not even consider the benefits of establishing a trust. A recent article recognized this problem and addressed some of the basic questions people have about trusts.

Is a summer home among your special assets?

Michigan has a great reputation as being a place to go to enjoy the outdoors. Many people from other states will purchase summer homes on one of the lakes to enjoy with their families, or to rent out to others when they aren't in personal use. A summer home is a big purchase for a family, but it is often worth the extra effort and money it takes to maintain a separate house that is sometimes hours away from where a family actually lives. And, when kids get older and start families of their own, the summer home can actually become a focal point for large family get-togethers or a vacation spot for what was one family that has now become several. But does owning a summer home present unique questions from a probate standpoint? According to one recent article, the answer to that question is a resounding "yes."

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