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.
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 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 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.
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.
When Oakland County residents think of establishing a trust, they may think of one aspect in particular: trusts are complicated. While that can be true, the real benefits of trusts are worth the effort when it comes to tax planning or protecting an inheritance. This is true not only for individuals thinking of individual estate planning; trusts can also be an extremely useful for small business owners who intend to eventually pass their business and assets on to 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.
Previously on this blog, we discussed recent headway in Alzheimer's research that could result in improved medical treatment. And since the percentage of people in Michigan who are 65 or older is greater than the national average, many readers in the Detroit area who are doing estate planning may be interested in a more recent report by the Alzheimer's Association.
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 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.