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.
In the case of America's population in general, and Michigan's especially, statistics show that people are living longer. Michigan's population percentage of people 65 and older is greater than the national average, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. What the statistics don't show is that not everyone is preparing for this new reality in their early-life estate planning.
Readers in the Detroit area were likely saddened to hear of the death of Etta James, the R&B icon with the powerful and husky voice who sang such hits as "At Last" and "Tell Mama." James passed away recently at the age of 72. Sadly, in her later years, she suffered from a number of health problems, including leukemia and dementia, and the final year of her life saw much controversy over matters of estate planning. Oakland County residents may take interest in the dispute over the care of James' estate, as many families in Michigan often face similar issues.
A couple of weeks ago, Michigan residents may remember that we discussed aspects of a modern estate plan that would avoid probate problems potentially caused by people having online accounts that outlive them. Well, like digital clockwork, Facebook has responded to the problem. The social network has introduced an application (or "app") that can be used to allow appointed trustees to post video or text messages on a person's wall, even if he or she is deceased. And, to avoid future probate disputes, readers in the Detroit area may want to look into similar measures with regard to all of their online accounts.
For many Oakland County residents, estate planning is a crucial aspect of financial management. However, mistakes in the estate planning process happen all too frequently. There are some especially common mistakes that a majority of people make when hashing out their estate plans. Whether it involves guardianships or trusts, an estate plan can cause a multitude of problems if due care isn't taken in establishing details.
Michigan readers may have heard the term "powers of attorney" and not been fully aware of what the term means. It is a fairly common legal term that refers to a particular kind of document that many Michigan residents draft in anticipation that they may become enfeebled or incapacitated in some way. For instance, if an adult child discovers that his or her parent is allowing bills to pile up in the parent's home because of the parent's inability to keep up, a powers of attorney document can be helpful in allowing the adult child to take over bill-paying and other estate matters because the parent is no longer able.