Many of our Michigan readers know that having a will is just one piece of a larger, comprehensive estate plan. Previous posts here have also detailed how important other estate planning documents can be, such as trusts and powers of attorney. However, those other documents - while still very important for many people - should not cast a shadow on the fact that a will is going to be the bedrock document in most instances, regardless of the amount of assets that need to be distributed or the number of relatives that need to be included in the plan.
Some people view estate planning negatively, which is somewhat understandable. Some believe it is morbid to think about death and how to designate property distribution. Others simply find the vast array of options too daunting to even get started. That is why starting with a will can be a good first step.
For most people, a will sets out how financial assets and personal property is to be distributed upon death. Even though many of our readers may think that the most logical way to divide things up is to distribute it all evenly amongst immediate family members, that is not likely to be the case in most situations. In today's society, where divorce is common and extended family members can be part of the makeup of an immediate household, there are usually other considerations involved.
Planning for distributing assets and property is important, but perhaps the most crucial part of a will for parents with minor children is designating guardians for those children. The decision of whom to choose can be difficult and can be the source of tension between spouses. As part of putting together an estate plan, however, sitting down and actually thinking of what would need to happen in certain situations can help diffuse these problems. Planning the details of a will is usually where most people start.
Source: GreenBayPressGazette.com, "Carissa Giebel column: Estate planning more than just a will," Carissa Giebel, Oct. 28, 2013