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Wagner Law
Wagner Law

When an individual passes away in Michigan without an estate plan in place, any assets that the individual possessed at the time of death will be divided into two possible categories. One category is probate, and the other is non-probate assets. Probate assets are any assets that were titled in the deceased’s name alone upon his or her death. The distribution of probate assets is controlled by the Michigan Laws of Intestacy in probate court. The non-probate assets, which include jointly owned property and accounts with designated beneficiaries, will pass automatically outside of probate court to those individuals.

What Exactly Is A Will And What Does That Do For Someone?

A will is a legal document that details a person’s wishes as to how their property is to be distributed after their death. It indicates who will manage the property until that distribution. A will can be beneficial to an individual due to the fact that they are making their own personal wishes known with respect to the distribution of their property by taking it out of the realm of the Michigan Laws of Intestacy.

What Then Is A Trust And What Are Some Of The Most Common Types Of Trusts Used And What Do They Do?

A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which the trust maker provides the trustee the right to hold assets and title to a property for a beneficiary. There are a number of different types of trusts. The most common trusts are the revocable living trust and the irrevocable trust.

Tell Me A Little Bit About The Details Of Those Types Of Trusts? What Do They Do? What Protections Do They Offer?

A revocable living trust allows an individual or a joint couple to provide assets to a trustee to manage for a beneficiary. Often, when an individual or a joint couple creates a trust, they’re able to put together a much more comprehensive estate plan by protecting assets from creditors, and coming up with specific and unique distribution plans in regard to their assets and property.

Moreover, a revocable living trust can be changed over time. And so, as your life plays out, and you have changing needs, your trust is able to be changed or modified to incorporate those changes and circumstances. A trust is also beneficial because if funded properly, it can avoid the process of having to probate an individual’s estate.

What Is The Healthcare Power Of Attorney?

The healthcare power of attorney is a legal document by which an individual designates another person to be their agent in the event that that individual is unable to make medical decisions themselves.

What Happens If Someone Is In A Medical Situation And Does Not Have A Healthcare Power Of Attorney? Who Then Makes Decisions On Their Behalf? What Happens then?

When an individual becomes incapacitated or cannot make medical decisions themselves, and there is no power of attorney in place, a guardianship petition is often needed to be filed with the probate court. A guardianship petition allows a person to become appointed as guardian over that individual, and to receive what are called letters of authority so that they can legally act on behalf of that individual.

What Is A Financial Power Of Attorney? Does Everyone Need One?

A financial power of attorney is a legal document by which you’re designating another person to be your agent. A financial power of attorney can make financial decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to make those decisions yourself. Financial powers of attorney can be extremely helpful since no one has authority to access your accounts. As such, in times of need, a financial power of attorney can make financial decisions regarding bank accounts and paying bills. Without a financial power of attorney in place, that individual may be forced into probate court to seek a guardianship or conservatorship in order to get someone legally appointed with letters of authority to make those financial decisions on their behalf. The process of petitioning the probate court for guardianship and conservatorship can be quite expensive and time-consuming.

How Often Do You Advise Your Clients To Give Their Estate Plan A Checkup? What Would Be Some Circumstances That Would Call For Some Changes?

I always tell my clients that you should be looking at your estate plan at least every three years and when certain life events arise. Some of those life events include the death or incapacity of an individual that’s in your estate plan, whether they are a beneficiary or otherwise involved in your estate plan as an agent or a trustee. Also, a marriage or divorce can have a significant impact that necessitates a relook at your estate plan.

If you have children, at certain ages, it’s probably appropriate to take a look at the estate plan when your children become of legal adult age. And then, depending on what your children’s lives bring, if they are going through certain types of education, such as attending university or a higher level education, or if your children are getting married or having grandchildren, those are all life events that should be looked at in relation to your estate plan to make sure that it fits your needs.

All Of Those Changes, Unless It’s An Irrevocable Trust, Can Be Made Through Your Attorney Or Easily Done? Is That Correct?

Changes to a revocable living trust can be made. If there is a trust in place, in order to change the terms of the trust, I can draft what’s called an amendment to that trust to make sure it has the appropriate language and provisions that are desired by the individual or family. With respect to powers of attorney, we can always create a new power of attorney. If we need to change out a successor agent, make a change to the agent, or change the terms or the powers that are granted in those powers of attorney, those can be easily changed and modified by creating a new power of attorney and revoking the one that no longer fits your needs or desires.

For more information on Estate Planning In Michigan, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (248) 800-2548 today.

Brandon Wagner

Call Now To Schedule A Complimentary
15-minute Phone Consultation (248) 800-2548