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Oakland County MI Estate Planning Law Blog

Estate planning should include letters of instruction

Creating an estate plan requires formal legal documents, such as a trust, power of attorney, health care proxy and living will. However, effective trust planning should also include a letter of instruction containing information or guidance.

A LOI is an informal document that is not legally binding. One common use of them is to share information to the trustee concerning children with special needs or a disabled beneficiary of a special needs trust. These trusts are designed to improve a disabled beneficiary's lifestyle without sacrificing any government benefits. Through a LOI, a person can instruct the trustee about the beneficiary's personality and preferences and their wishes concerning expenditures for the beneficiary's care.

How to protect your digital legacy after your death

If you are forming a comprehensive estate plan to ensure the effective distribution of your assets after your death, you may not be aware of one emerging area in this field. In today's technological world, protecting your digital legacy is something you can plan for in your overall estate plan.

There are many things to consider when it comes to protecting your digital legacy after your death, and you should include this as a facet of your end-of-life planning. 

Where there is no will, there may be no way

Having a valid will and ensuring access to important estate and financial documents is an important part of estate planning. When this does not occur, surviving heirs face numerous obstacles. But, there are ways to climb out of this estate hole if parents or family members do not have a will or provide this access.

First, look through the parent's file cabinets, records and any other place where important documents were kept. Speak to their accountants and any lawyers they ever hired. Any business cards identifying lawyers, accountants or financial advisors may be helpful.

Poor planning can leave heirs with estate problems

Michigan families can experience unnecessary taxes, costly and stressful legal problems and lose inheritances when wills are poorly drafted or do not address common situations. Careful estate planning can help avoid these problems.

Failing to name a secondary beneficiary on insurance policies and retirement accounts is a very common but costly mistake. If a successor beneficiary is not identified after the original beneficiary has died, the estate may be hampered with probate litigation, creditors and other delays.

What makes a will valid?

When one of your family members dies, you go through a difficult grieving process. The complexities of distributing the estate may be difficult to understand and handle when you are dealing with the loss of someone you love. If the probate process seems unfair or strange to you, it may be because the will is invalid.

If the will is not a sound legal document, you may be able to challenge it. But before you contest the will, you should understand what makes a will valid. Here are the most important components of a properly-executed will. 

Helping you draft a long-term care plan

Even though it is inevitable, we do not like to think about the fact that we won't be here forever. Death is a difficult topic to talk about and even harder to accept. Despite that, it is one that we need to be ready for. This means considering how developing an estate plan could be beneficial. In some instances, an estate plan can be necessary, especially when it comes to long-term care planning.

The estate planning process is daunting and can be complex. Drafting these documents can get confusing, making it important to understand how you can get help and assistance. At Prince Law firm, our attorneys have years of experience helping clients memorialize their wishes in valid written form. WE are dedicated to helping individuals in the Detroit area draft a long-term care plan that meets their needs and goals.

Preparing an estate roadmap

After a person dies or becomes incapacitated, an heir or family members may have to engage in a scramble and search for important documents and assets. They may not know whether these documents are kept in a lawyer's office, a safe or a shoebox under the bed or have passwords to gain access to important information. An important part of estate planning is consolidating this important information in one place accessible and known to family members.

This information may be kept in a notebook, folder or a virtual online vault and should be carefully organized. The first section may include important documents such as agreements with financial services, lawyers and accountants describing the costs and extent of their services. It may also include copies of passports, birth certificates, marriage licenses and anything usually kept in a wallet such as work identifications, driver's licenses and credit cards.

Estate planning after a gray divorce in Michigan

Nowadays, gray divorce is a term that is heard more and more frequently. Gray divorce generally refers to divorce that takes place after a couple has been married for 20 years or more. These are couples who have often already raised a family and are likely near or already in retirement.

The challenges of a gray divorce are unique, especially given that assets in this phase of life are generally more significant. Estate planning - that is, documents and tools that detail the assets and property that make up your estate - becomes particularly relevant in a gray divorce. Here are some key factors to consider in terms of estate planning if you are going through a gray divorce or have already divorced.

Trustees risk mistrust

A trustee has the important duty of managing property for another person's benefit. Because this is an important position of trust and an obvious target in family disputes over trusts and estates, a trustee may face the risk of accusations of mismanagement or theft.

A trustee who accepts appointment agrees to manage the assets in the beneficiaries' best interests and protect the estate. Trustees must also manage the trust to assure that its intended purpose is completed without unnecessary and inappropriate risks or cost.

Estate planning survives tax cuts

Changes to the federal tax law effectively excludes 99.9 percent of all Americans from federal taxes by providing a $11.18 million estate exemption to single persons and $22 million to married couples. However, well-reasoned estate planning can help people in Michigan ensure that their inheritance will pass on as intended, lower the possibility of family disputes and reduce costly lawsuits.

The probate process is often lengthy, costly and complicated and should be avoided. When a person owns assets only in their name, a probate court must assure access to these assets after the person dies. An effective estate plan can avoid this by, among other things, creating a revocable trust that grants access to its beneficiaries.

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