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Where do Michigan residents start in estate planning?

"Where do I begin?" This is a question that many people have when they start to think about drafting a comprehensive estate plan. Even the term, "estate plan," can lead some people to scratch their heads and go back-and-forth over whether they really even need to have a plan, and if it is worth the work involved. But getting started with an estate plan doesn't have to be overwhelming or daunting. A recent article pointed out that several simple goals are what an effective estate plan is all about.

One of the most important goals: taking care of relatives. For individuals with minor children especially, this part of the process is extremely important. Naming a guardian in a will to care for minor children in the tragic event of the death of both parents can ensure that a handpicked, trusted person or family will look after the minor children and raise them the way the parents would want. For others, including relatives as they designate property distribution will ensure that assets go to the right people.

Bringing in the family can be a huge part of estate planning. Communicating wishes prior to the need for actual estate planning documents can prepare family members and help them know what to expect. Avoiding surprises in an estate plan can be an effective way to avoid probate litigations among family members.

Lastly, drafting the appropriate power of attorney documents can give the estate planner piece of mind in knowing that, if needed due to incapacity, a responsible and trustworthy person will be in place to make decisions - both financial decisions and medical decisions. After all, a comprehensive estate plan doesn't just cover what will happen to assets and personal property after a person dies. There are many tools that can help plan, as much as planning is possible, for any sudden, unexpected curveballs that life can send a person's way.

Source: Ahwatukee Foothills News, "Put these estate planning moves to work," Joseph Ortiz, July 17, 2013

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