The complexity of any given task will cause many people put it off for as long as they can. Estate planning probably falls within that realm of thinking for a large number of Michigan residents. Sure, most people know that they need a will, but even that can seem like a complex task that can be pushed off until another day. Recognizing this common mental block, a recent article sought to educate readers on how to make the process a little less intimidating.
The article addressed which assets to include in an estate plan, which documents are more beneficial than others and whom to consider when selecting someone to appoint as a representative in a power of attorney. First, as many of our readers probably know from reader previous posts, an estate plan should be as comprehensive as possible. That means that all of a person's assets should be included, and maybe even those assets which a person anticipates will be part of the estate at some point in the future.
Next, the article addressed the benefits of including a trust in an estate plan. The benefits include tax planning advantages and avoiding probate.
When selecting someone to name as part of a power of attorney document, the article suggesting that an estate planner should keep in mind what powers that person will have. In Michigan, there are two types of power of attorneys: a durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. In a durable power of attorney the designated representative will have control over the planner's financial assets. In a health care power of attorney the representative will be able to make medical decisions for the planner in the event that the planner becomes incapacitated or otherwise unable to make decisions on their own.
Lastly, the article addressed the will - the bedrock of most estate plans. The goals of the document are usually to designate property distribution and, for those with minor children, to name guardians for those children if both parents are deceased when the will becomes relevant.
Source: Fox Business, "How to Make Estate Planning Less Complex," Casey Dowd, Aug. 22, 2013