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Oakland County MI Estate Planning Law Blog

Planning can help assure final wishes are met

An estate plan can help assure that a person's assets are preserved and distributed appropriately after their death. Researchers have also discovered that careful documentation of a patient's end-of-life wishes, such as executing a health care power of attorney, can help avoid unwanted hospitalizations and health care intervention.

Ohio State University researchers reviewed health records of 1,185 cancer patients who were referred to hospice. They discovered that a verified do-not-resuscitate order before the last 30 days of their life lowered the odds of hospitalization. Placement of a power of attorney or other valid legal directive in the electronic health record also lowered the chances of admission. These were even more effective if the document was placed in the record at least six months before death.

Is your parent's will valid?

In dealing with the aftermath of a parent dying, an individual may have a lot of questions about the last will and testament. Whether he or she is managing the estate or simply a beneficiary, there may be doubts about the validity of the document.

Heirs or other interested parties may be raising questions and perhaps even initiating litigation. Here are the requirements for a lawful will in Michigan and what legal grounds warrant a challenge.

What is a living trust?

Estate planning is not limited to executing a will. A living trust is a flexible method for protecting property and placing it under a trustee's management.

A trustee is appointed to manage a living trust and assure that its assets are distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries in accordance with the trust's instructions. The person who placed their assets in the trust can name themselves as a trustee or appoint another person

Three wills triple Aretha Franklin estate problems

Aretha Franklin's estate was always complicated and has become even more difficult. Three handwritten wills were recently discovered in her home. Discovery of these homemade documents are going to pose difficulties with ongoing probate litigation.

Michigan law may recognize two of these wills dated June 21, 2010 and March 31, 2014. The third document, a one-page note written and dated later in 2010 also states that is a will but does not contain any direction on who is to inherit her property, administer her estate or other important clauses that are normally contained in wills.

Long-term care planning should begin shortly

Families can face serious personal and financial consequences by not preparing for the care of their relatives as they age. They should begin long term planning to help deal with the rising cost of this care and other problems.

Spouses and children who do not plan face the risk of burnout. Almost half of caregivers report that their health and well-being suffered.

Families can complicate estate planning

Family members can complicate lives and dealing with assets after relatives die. Following through on estate planning and communicating with heirs can avoid many family disputes over inheritances.

Many families, especially wealthy ones, must deal with sibling rivalry. To address this, parents should explain their estate plans, their goals, the reasons for their choices and that they are comfortable with their plans.

What elements make up breach of fiduciary duty?

As people develop their estate plans, they often provide fiduciary duties to someone they can trust. Fiduciary duty refers to someone who acts in the best interest of someone else, typically in a financial matter. While estate planners believe they can trust the person to oversee their finances, some people act selfishly. They may try to personally benefit from the position, and this becomes a breach of fiduciary duty. 

The Michigan Legislature lays out precisely what breach of fiduciary duty entails. It is vital for loved ones to keep an eye out for the fiduciary actually following through on his or her duties. If any breach comes about, then it is paramount to act quickly. The estate planner may still be able to recover damages lost.

Hybrid long-term care insurance

Long-term care has become extremely expensive and a financial hardship for people as they become older and for families of aging parents. Long-term care planning should include payment options such as a hybrid long-term care policy.

A traditional long-term care insurance may be an option for families with limited assets. For families with significant assets, some experts recommend that they self-insure by using their own savings or investments instead of purchasing insurance.

Considering a power of attorney

Estate planning should include other matters besides the distribution of property after a person dies. A person should consider a power of attorney to assure that they are protected when they can no longer make decisions or act on their own behalf, especially during an emergency. These documents must meet a variety of needs and need to be carefully planned.

A general power of attorney is the broadest and authorizes the named agent to make decisions on a person's behalf. The agent must act upon that person's best interests and a court may hold them legally accountable for their actions. These powers are more prone to abuse because they are so broad and general.

Avoid these estate planning errors

Preparing a valid and well-thought out will and planning for contingencies can avoid problems for relatives and help assure that a person's wishes are carried out after they die. There are several mistakes that should be avoided with estate planning.

First, no planning is the greatest error. Death or incapacity can come to anyone of any age, health or income. Drafting a will and powers of attorney for financial matters and health care decisions are important basic matters. Without guidance, family members may undergo needless stress and uncertainty.

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