Most of our Oakland County readers would like to have a financial plan. But what does that mean, really? Does it just mean saving for retirement? Or how about budgeting household expenses and saving specifically for "splurge"-type expenditures like vacations? While these types of steps can absolutely make up part of an overarching financial plan, some people don't think to take care of what can be the most important parts -- long term planning and estate planning.
Most people, including our Detroit-area readers, would probably rather avoid going to court if they can. After all, court hearings usually only occur when the conflict between two parties reaches a point where the issue cannot be resolved through alternative means. But whenever parties do end up in court, most would like to think that all of the best practices are being followed. A recent audit of Michigan's probate courts, however, found a few bugs in the system.
When Michigan residents hear the term "estate plan," some may think of it as a legal term applying only to wealthy people. On the same token, people might think of an estate plan as a stack of documents that directs the distribution of enormous amounts of assets and property. However, what these same people may not know is that drawing up a document as simple as a will is the beginning of virtually every estate planning process.
Michigan residents love cars, especially in the Detroit area. That is why many people were saddened by the death of Carroll Shelby on May 10. Shelby was responsible for some of the most iconic American muscle car designs and engines, and the Ford Mustang Shelby remains one of the most venerated cars to ever come out of Detroit. Shelby died at the age of 89 in Dallas, and unfortunately his body remains there at the medical examiner's office while his family members dispute over how his burial will proceed.
Readers in the Detroit area may be interested in a recent survey showing that just 19 percent of baby boomers feel obligated to leave their children an inheritance. But this percentage is higher than in 2005, prior to the nation's crushing economic downturn, when just 3 percent of baby boomers reported feeling obligated to pass on estate assets to heirs.
Our readers in the Detroit area may recall our previous discussions about the variety of estate planning tools -- such as wills and trusts -- that can be included in a comprehensive plan. But one instrument that sometimes is overlooked is the power of attorney. Powers of attorney are key parts of an estate plan because they ensure that your wishes are followed -- not when you die, but when you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions on your own.
Our Detroit-area readers have probably seen previous posts that discuss the importance of considering future medical expenses and long-term care when forming a comprehensive estate plan. While it is obvious that no one can predict every aspect of the future, making certain financial preparations can help prevent some of the stress that many people experience in the absence of a clear plan.
Readers in Oakland County likely already realize that a will is a primary estate planning tool. A will can be the bedrock around which all other estate planning devices revolve. Wills are known for helping estate planners avoid intestacy and carefully designate how property should be distributed to heirs and beneficiaries.
There is a plethora of estate planning options for Detroit residents who want to avoid probate litigation and reduce personal liability. Neither lawsuits over personal property nor family strife pertaining to the distribution of assets are desirable consequences of estate planning. In particular, Michigan real estate owners may want to consider a few important tools for avoiding future problems with probate.
Detroit-area readers may have noticed that previous posts usually mention the need for a comprehensive estate plan. Whether your goal is to avoid litigation between family members, ensure your wishes are followed in the distribution of your assets, or set up long-term care options, comprehensive estate plans can prevent an untold number of headaches.