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Thinking about estate planning in a different light

Thousands of Michigan residents probably think at least once a day: "I need a will." Many of our readers know from previous posts here that there are so many people out there who know that they need an estate plan, yet each day passes and they don't get any further along with the estate planning process. Procrastination in this area of life is somewhat understandable, since having an estate plan drafted will necessarily entail thinking about some unpleasant situations; namely, death.

However, as a recent article noted, perhaps the best way to think about estate planning isn't in terms of a person's eventual death or the potential for long-term incapacity, but instead by thinking of the relatives and friends who will benefit by the planner taking the time to set out their wishes before the estate planning documents are actually needed. The article pointed out that a family member's sudden death, if that were to occur, could be an emotional hurricane for relatives and friends, and to throw financial turmoil or probate litigation on top of the loss could make the situation that much worse. After all, it isn't the deceased person who will benefit from the estate plan - it's the family members and friends designated as beneficiaries.

Having a will is just the start. Although a will is an important document in which the planner will designate property distribution and name guardians for minor children, if needed, there are other documents to draft as well. Trusts may be an option for many Michigan residents, and powers of attorney are a must for any good, comprehensive plan. But, to get all of these documents in order, the first step is - taking the first step!

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "5 estate-plan strategies for boomers," Andrea Coombes, Nov. 29, 2013

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