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Questions you should ask yourself when drafting an estate plan

There comes a point in every person's life when they need to take steps to protect their assets and their future. While this can happen earlier in life for some, most people hold off drafting an estate plan far too late in life. No matter when an individual in Michigan decides to begin the estate planning process, it is important to understand what the process entails and what can be done on their part to ensure that their interests and rights are well protected.

Everyone technically has an estate. They have property, assets, vehicles and bank accounts. The estate planning process is designed to protect a person's estate, ensuring that it is well managed if that person becomes incapacitated, or ensuring that the estate is dispersed as they intended at the time of death. In order to properly memorialize your wishes in an estate plan, it is important to ask yourself five crucial questions.

First, you need to ask what assets you currently have. Additionally, you need to consider how these assets are currently titled and if they require any updates or changes. Next, you should ask how you can best protect these assets in order to benefit your spouse, dependents, beneficiaries and heirs. This means properly naming a person as a beneficiary, naming a person in a will and even drafting a trust.

Third, one should ask how an estate plan could change if the dynamics of your personal life changes. This includes events such as suffering a disability, entering a second marriage, having children from different marriages, entering a civil union or the death of a loved one. Next, you should ask what tax implications are involved in your tax plan. This could trigger the need for changes. Finally, you should question whether you should name a designated beneficiary for non-probate assets. This includes life insurance accounts, investment accounts and bank accounts.

By considering these and other similar questions, an individual could draft a strong and workable estate plan. Because this is not an easy process to enter into or complete, those working on an estate plan should take the time to fully understand the process, their available options and what steps they could take to further protect their assets.

Source:, "The 5 questions you need to ask an estate planning attorney," June 22, 2017

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