Most people, including our Detroit-area readers, would probably rather avoid going to court if they can. After all, court hearings usually only occur when the conflict between two parties reaches a point where the issue cannot be resolved through alternative means. But whenever parties do end up in court, most would like to think that all of the best practices are being followed. A recent audit of Michigan's probate courts, however, found a few bugs in the system.
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.
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.