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.
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.
Previous posts have mentioned that Michigan is one state making progress on the simplification of estate administration and distribution of assets. Estate administration is hard enough without having to work around complex state laws and requirements.
Oakland County residents may be familiar with the ongoing probate dispute over the estate of Rosa Parks, the well-known civil rights icon who died in 2005 with an estate valued at roughly $9 million.
Michigan residents may be aware of the challenges involved when a person inherits assets. For example, discussions of recent high-profile celebrity deaths often quickly turn to the question of who will raise the kids and get the millions. Most of these celebrities even had wills, but that does not necessarily prevent subsequent disputes over the content of those wills.
Readers in Michigan have likely heard about the untimely death of Whitney Houston. While the death of the great pop star is certainly a tragedy, it has served as a reminder to everyone, young and old, of the importance of a well-crafted estate plan.
Many Michigan residents may already have an estate plan which they believe is sufficient to their end-of-life wishes. But sometimes estate plans that seem water-tight are filled with tiny holes that can develop into larger ones. To take this holey metaphor further, the puncturing object in some estate plans may be technology itself.
Michigan residents who are concerned about how to pay for legal assistance in estate matters may be interested to hear of a service currently being offered in Florida. The Community Law Program is a service which offers low-income seniors assistance in legal matters such as estate planning, trusts, and establishing powers of attorney. Although the program is currently in Florida, it may encourage Michigan seniors to look for something similar in their area.