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Do young Michigan families need an estate plan?

Many of our previous posts have focused on the variety of approaches a Michigan resident can take with estate planning. Estate administration can be a complicated and delicate process, so it is of the utmost importance that all estate planning documents are in the highest level of detail and stored in a manner which will make the probate process as quick and easy as possible. But who is it, really, that needs an estate plan? Is it only wealthy individuals with thousands, if not millions, in assets which need to be designated for distribution? The answer is, quite simply, absolutely not. Even a young couple, perhaps recently married or with a newborn baby, should be sure to complete the necessary documents of an estate plan.

Everyone, when they die, will leave behind an "estate" consisting of all of their assets. And while it can be unpleasant for a young, healthy person to think about death, the reality is that it happens to us all. Designating an executor of the estate to handle financial and valuation affairs surrounding an estate is simply a prudent step. And designating how those assets are to be distributed to family, friends or other beneficiaries is a key step in the process.

What about couples who have minor children? Well, estate planning documents will be needed to spell out who would take over as guardian for the children, most notably in the untimely event that both parents die while the children are still minors. This can be the most difficult part of the process for some, because it usually entails discussing the situation with the potential guardians and coming to an understanding of what the planner's wishes for their children would be.

An estate plan doesn't have to be overly complex or overreaching. Young people should just make sure that they at least have the basics covered, and then they can update their estate plans as life goes on, things change and more assets are acquired.

Source:, "Estate planning for young families," Jonathan A. Mintz, Nov. 29, 2012

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