As the end of the year approaches, many of our Michigan readers may be thinking that now is the time to make a last minute run at estate planning. For many, there is no time like the present, especially for tax planning purposes. This is because there are some exempts and taxes which will most likely be changing by next year. For others, the end of the year can be a period of reflection on all of the events which have transpired over the course of 2012, which can lead to the conclusion that now is the time to make sure that relatives would be taken care of in the unfortunate event of an untimely death. However, no matter what is driving a person to start thinking about their estate plan, one part of the estate that many will need to remember to include is one that has only been coming to light in recent years: digital assets.
A recent dispute about a will, which has made some national headlines, has finally been resolved, but it just goes to show how important every little detail of an estate plan can be.
The University of Michigan is in line to receive a substantial alumni donation, as recently deceased news legend Mike Wallace left the school a treasure trove of materials relating to his professional career.
Our Michigan readers have seen in plenty of our previous posts how having the right estate plan can lead to smooth transfers of assets and personal property, and how bad estate planning can lead to litigation and family strife amongst relatives. However, many of our readers may still wonder, what exactly does a comprehensive estate plan consist of?
It is a topic that is becoming more frequently discussed in the course of drawing up an estate plan: digital assets. What are digital assets? Well, that would be all of the things you keep on your computer, be it a home desktop or personal laptop. Pictures, videos, music and personal files, all of these can be considered digital assets. Beyond these, you may have an entire online persona that is password protected, including everything from an email account to a Facebook page. When a Michigan resident approaches estate planning, they should not forget to answer the question: what do I want to happen to all of this?
As many of our readers are probably aware by now, a recent Powerball lottery jackpot of $337 million went to a lucky winner in Michigan. With such a windfall coming to the winner, it is easy to image that the individual or group holding the winning ticket probably won't have to worry about money anymore. That is likely to be true in some respects, but with that type of money it is best to start making some plans on how to accommodate the associated changes into a normal life.
Although our Oakland County readers would have to be of a certain generation and have a certain musical taste to know who Adam Yauch was, some interesting news has developed in the wake of his recent and untimely death which could shed some light on key aspects of estate planning. Yauch was more popularly known as MCA, a founding member of the iconic and genre shattering group known as the Beastie Boys. The group's music developed an intense following beginning in the 1980's, and they became even more famous because they were some of the first Caucasian rappers to gain mainstream credibility. Mega-stars like Detroit native Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, have said that the Beastie Boys were a huge influence and inspiration to them.
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.