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Goals of estate planning

Most of our Michigan readers know the basic goals of a will. First, the will is intended to designate property distribution among relatives, friends and charities, so that a person's assets will be passed on to those individuals or organizations specifically designate by the estate planner. These assets could include personal property, business assets, real estate or cash. Sitting down and crafting an approach during the estate planning process can give the planner the comprehensive approach - and comprehensive answer - that they want to provide some piece of mind.

Next, for those with minor children, a portion of a will is set to designate a guardian for those children in the event that the estate planner dies before the children reach the age of eighteen. Married couples, as noted in a recent article, often have "mirror" wills drafted, in which one spouse leaves everything to the other, and both wills designate the same guardian, which the couple would have previously agreed upon.

After these first two goals, many people want to ensure, to the greatest degree possible, that there will be no unpleasant probate litigation among beneficiaries. This can be difficult if a planner leaves someone out of their will who would obviously have an interest in the succession of the assets of the estate, such as an adult son or daughter. However, for many people, this issue is not only addressed in the terms of the will, but also in conversations with those who will receive something and those who will not. Obviously these conversations take place while the planner is still alive, and talking through issues can put minds at ease about the ultimate result of the distribution of the estate.

In almost every situation, having a will drafted is better than not having one, in which case the person would die "intestate," triggering the provisions of state law to handle the distribution of the estate. There are many options in an estate plan, but most of our Michigan readers know that a will is the bedrock of any plan.

Source:, "A grave issue: which will is right for you?," July 30, 2013

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