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Taking the first step to protect assets and plan accordingly

Anyone who works in the field of estate planning would probably be able to tell our readers that the biggest hurdle for Michigan residents to overcome in the process is taking the first step. Like a major house project that has been put off for months or years, many people view estate planning as some herculean task that once begun will be more trouble than it is worth. For the vast majority of people, however, that could not be farther from the truth.

In fact, many people can cover most of their bases just by having a will drafted. This document, which is typically the bedrock of any good, comprehensive estate plan, will name beneficiaries, designate property distribution and cover any other details a person wants close friends and relatives to know after they die.

As noted in a recent article, however, for some people a will is not enough. Many people have assets that will not go through the probate process, like life insurance policies, so having those documents reviewed during the planning process can help to ensure that everything is filled out correctly and the right beneficiary and alternative beneficiaries are named.

Other Michigan residents may find that establishing one or more trusts is the best way to protect their assets and get them into the right hands. As noted in previous posts here, some property can be transferred to a trust while the planner is still alive - leaving them to benefit from the property during life and ensuring that the property is passed on smoothly after they die.

There are many options to consider in the estate planning process. But, Michigan residents need to take that first step to get the process started. Once they do, they will probably realize that the process isn't as bad as they imagined.

Source:, "Resolve to make an estate plan this year," Michael Smith and Richard Barid, Jan. 21, 2014

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