After a person dies or becomes incapacitated, an heir or family members may have to engage in a scramble and search for important documents and assets. They may not know whether these documents are kept in a lawyer's office, a safe or a shoebox under the bed or have passwords to gain access to important information. An important part of estate planning is consolidating this important information in one place accessible and known to family members.
Changes to the federal tax law effectively excludes 99.9 percent of all Americans from federal taxes by providing a $11.18 million estate exemption to single persons and $22 million to married couples. However, well-reasoned estate planning can help people in Michigan ensure that their inheritance will pass on as intended, lower the possibility of family disputes and reduce costly lawsuits.
Usually, estate administration is ignored until there is a fight over a Michigan will or inheritance. But, there are some trends indicating that this legal area is changing, and estate and probate litigation may grow in 2018.
Michigan's estate administration law was intended to assure transfer of property from testators and heirs through probate. However, misappropriation of funds sparked change to this law.
Famed singer James Brown died on Christmas Day in 2006 but his estate, estimated from anywhere from $5 million to $100 million, is involved in at least 12 lawsuits. Estate administration is stymied and no money has been distributed to Brown's designated beneficiaries.
The executor is a vital part of estate administration in Michigan. Their responsibilities are numerous, but their experience is often limited.
An important part of estate planning and settling an estate is meeting legal deadlines. Selection of a competent executor in this life helps prevent litigation and other confusion after the testator is gone.
Drafting four important documents and keeping them current is an essential part of estate planning that protects individual, allow them to take care of themselves when they are alive and provides protection for their heirs. Age or net worth are not barriers to having these documents.
We do a wide variety of things to protect ourselves. We take precautions, make detailed plans, purchase insurance and even set up security systems. However, what about taking steps that also protect our loved ones at the same time. When it comes to your assets and property, it is important that these are passed on to the correct heirs and beneficiaries. Thus, wills and trusts are drafted to memorialize your wishes, ensuring that they occur at the time of your death.
Developing an estate plan can serve many purposes for residents in Michigan and elsewhere. While the documents contained in an estate plan could help individuals and their heirs sort through difficult decisions at the time of or after a loved one's death, it is important to understand that by simply drafting an estate plan, the probate process can be bypassed or eased.