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.
When it comes to tax planning, most Michigan residents probably all have the same goal: pay as little in taxes as possible. That can be easier said than done these days, especially with the uncertainty coming from the federal government over what exactly the tax structure of future years, or even next year, will be. However, one thing that our Michigan readers can be sure of is what the taxes for this year, 2012, will be. And, many may not be aware of a creative way to begin structuring their tax requirements around the use of trusts.
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.
Our Michigan readers may be familiar with several of our previous posts, which bring to light some more information about the various documents involved in a comprehensive estate plan -- a will, trusts, etc. One of our recent posts detailed the importance of an oft-overlooked part of a comprehensive estate plan: powers of attorney. These documents, which some people may not be as familiar with as they might be with something like a will, also play key roles in laying out certain desires and wishes to be followed.
Any of our Oakland County readers who are familiar with some of our most recent posts have seen the discussion of some of the most important aspects of a solid, comprehensive estate plan. Of course, it is probably obvious that the first estate planning document to be discussed is a will, since this particular instrument can spell out many of the most important wishes to be carried out, from asset distribution to funeral arrangements. And, for those who may be interested, previous posts have discussed the many uses of trusts, and how they can be especially effective in addressing several areas concerning the transition of assets. However, there are other documents that should not be overlooked for the importance - powers of attorney.
Any of our Michigan readers who are familiar with previous posts know that sometimes estate planning can be complicated. When the idea of trusts is thrown in, many probably think that things are getting really complicated.
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.
Some of our Oakland County readers may be keeping up with the family strife that is tearing the world-famous Jackson family apart these days. Michael Jackson's death was both sudden and tragic, and even after so much time has passed since then, his family members are waging a very public and, at times, very nasty fight over perceived problems with his estate administration.