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Estate Planning

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Depending on the size of the estate, some clients may only require a will-based estate plan. In short, a Last Will and Testament clarifies how an individual’s assets will be managed and distributed upon death, and designates a personal representative to carry out the instructions of the will. Additionally, a will is the only way to name guardians for minor children.

Because a will must go through the probate process, which can be time consuming and costly, we often recommend utilizing a number of other estate planning tools, including:

  • Revocable Living Trust – A properly designed and funded trust allows the trust maker, or grantor, to continue managing the trust assets during his or her lifetime. A living trust can also help to plan for incapacity by designating a successor trustee to manage the trust assets for the benefit of the grantor. Additionally, a successor trustee is responsible for carrying out the terms of the trust and distributing the assets to beneficiaries upon the grantor’s death. The main benefit of a living trust is that it does not go through the probate, since the grantor no longer owns the assets. Ultimately, this can save time and money and maintain the privacy of the financial arrangements.
  • Irrevocable Trust – Unlike a living trust, an irrevocable trust cannot be altered or modified during the grantor’s lifetime. There are different types of trusts that can be established to achieve a number of objectives such as providing for a loved one with special needs, long-term care planning, charitable giving, avoiding estate taxes and asset protection.
  • Durable Power of Attorney – This document names another individual to handle a person’s personal and business affairs in the event of incapacity such as managing bank and investment accounts, paying debts and managing household expenses.
  • Advance Health Care Directive – This document (also known as a health care proxy, or a durable power of attorney for health care) designates an agent to make decisions about the medical treatment a person should receive in the event of incapacity, according to his or her preferences. In Michigan, this directive also declares the type of life preserving medical care a person should receive or have withheld in the event he or she becomes incapacitated.
  • Guardianship – Created in order to protect an individual who is incapable of caring for him or herself due to a catastrophic injury, incapacitating physical illness or psychological disorder.

At PB Legal Group, we believe that creating an estate plan is the only responsible way to protect your assets and provide for your loved ones. By failing to do so, the court will make decisions about the distribution of your assets according to the state’s intestacy laws, which may not agree with your wishes. Our capable attorneys can help to create a plan that achieves all of your financial goals.

If you need assistance creating or updating your estate plan, call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.

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