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Oakland County MI Estate Planning Law Blog

A family caregiver may need to seek guardianship, conservatorship

As they reach their elderly years, some Michigan residents may no longer be able to handle their personal affairs on their own. Some individuals may suffer a serious injury or illness, and others may develop conditions like Alzheimer's or dementia. For younger loved ones like you, it can be difficult to watch a parent or other older family member struggle.

If you have concerns about the well-being of your parent, you may wonder what to do. At first, you may have thought that your parent simply had a lapse in judgment once or twice or mislaid something that he or she could not find later. However, when a serious event took place like his or her power shutting off because of not paying the bills, you knew you needed to step in.

Don't forget about unseen assets

Families in the throes of estate planning may sometimes forget about some assets, such as Medicare, retirement accounts, and Social Security. These are assets that can be very important down the road and could carry a lot of value within the estate. A wrong move in the consideration of such assets could have serious repercussions.

These types of assets will pass on to a designated beneficiary, chosen by the current recipient. If a deceased spouse has outstanding medical bills and was a Medicare recipient, a surviving spouse can count on those expenses to be covered. They would not have to worry about those bills having to be paid out of estate funds. If the deceased was drawing a monthly check from Social Security, the widowed spouse would then be able to collect that benefit.

Going through the probate process in Michigan

Probate court can seem like a mystery to many Michigan residents. After all, going through the probate process may be the first exposure a person has with the court system. But, when the need to go through this process arises, taking the right steps and having all the right information about one's legal options can make the process go smoother.

Most estates come with a bit of complexity, but, in Michigan, most are likely to go through what is known as unsupervised probate. This means that the probate court will not step in and review every little detail of how the estate is administered but will instead leave the process to the estate administrator. In the best-case scenarios, estates that are ushered through unsupervised probate can be concluded within about six months or so.

Rights and responsibilities of patient advocates

Estate planning can cover a diverse range of topics. Although many Michigan residents may focus their estate planning needs on drafting wills and establishing trusts, the creation and execution of powers of attorney are important as well. Power of attorney documents discuss what will be done when people can no longer make their own medical and financial decisions.

For example, a healthcare power of attorney may be drafted by a person who has strong opinions on how their medical care should be provided. If the person wishes to receive all possible life-sustaining care in the event of their illness or injury, they may communicate that in their power of attorney. They may then name a person to administer their power of attorney to help ensure that it is followed.

Can a person cut their spouse out of their will?

In September, rock and roll legend Ric Ocasek passed away in his mid-seventies. Ocasek suffered from a number of heart-related illnesses and was recovering from surgery when he died of natural causes. He was found by his wife, model Paulina Porizkova, from whom he had been estranged since 2017.

While at first this story may sound like a sad tale of love and loss in Hollywood, Michigan residents should be aware that this story has a complicated twist: Ocasek left Porizkova out of his will. Porizkova learned of the will after Ocasek's death, and, in the document, Ocasek claimed that his wife had abandoned him.

Estate planning tips for remarriage

A lot of people end up marrying for a second time later in life. Due to divorce or death, many people across Michigan find themselves in a place where they want to marry for a second time. It is a joyous period in a person's life, but it also comes with some complications as far as creating a viable estate plan

Remarriage poses some challenges for estate plans, especially if you have children from a previous relationship. However, second marriages do not have to come with headaches. As long as you have enough forethought, you can go into your new marriage with peace of mind. 

What is an AB trust?

Trusts may seem like complicated estate planning tools, but, with the right help and a trustworthy legal counselor, a Michigan resident can confidently execute this important testamentary device. There are many different types of trusts that individuals can use to meet their estate planning goals. One popular form of trust is the AB trust, which is often used by married couples.

Married individuals may place their property into an AB trust and name their children as beneficiaries when they pass on. However, an AB trust allows the surviving spouse to use and even sell items of property in the trust that were owned by their deceased partner before their death. An AB trust protects the wealth and assets of the deceased spouse and preserves it for the decedent's beneficiaries, while also allowing the surviving spouse to use the assets to continue to live.

Key requirements for a valid Michigan will

A Michigan resident does not have to panic when they consider how and when they will draft their estate planning documents. Attorneys are well-versed in the requirements that apply to trusts, wills, and other important tools. Because estate planning documents must conform to certain specifications, individuals may be well-served to seek professional assistance when preparing these items.

For example, a will must meet a number of requirements to be legally valid. First, only adults who are at least 18 years old may create wills. Additionally, individuals who prepare wills must be of sound mind or understand what they are accomplishing through the terms of their will for their documents to stand up in probate.

How do I begin to make a long-term care plan?

For some, the future is full of possibilities and opportunities for exploration, self-development, and growth. However, others take a more sober approach to the future and worry about what they cannot anticipate or control. Regardless of what mindset a Michigan reader has about the coming years, they should be aware that they can take some action to protect themselves, with a long-term care plan.

A long-term care plan is a plan for providing for one's own personal and medical needs in the future. Not everyone will be able to care for themselves when they reach an advanced age, and long-term care plans can help people get the services and support they will eventually require. Long-term care planning often requires individuals to look closely at their savings to determine what they can do to protect their future.

Revise critical components of your estate plan after divorce

Married couples in Michigan know that sometimes, happily ever after does not turn out in their favor. Sadly, divorce can strike any couple if the situation behind the scenes deteriorates significantly.

As part of your marriage, you likely created an estate plan together. You also revised it when you had children or when there was a change in your finances or property holdings. When the marriage ends, the spouses must divide assets and go their separate ways. At this point, you may also want to look at your estate plan and do what you can to revise it per your current single states. Address these and other areas of your plan and change them accordingly.

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