You may have heard stories about what can happen if you die without leaving a will. Families are often divided over rights to your property, face financial difficulties due to death taxes, and have no clue as to what your wishes might have been. These nightmare scenarios may even have led you to draft a basic will as a result, outlining the major points of what should be done with your home, car, and savings when you are no longer living.
A Will Is Only the First Step Toward a Strong Michigan Estate Plan
Although drafting a will is an important measure, it is far from the only thing you should do to protect your estate. Many wills only offer minimum, non-specific protection, and are rarely updated as a person’s situation in life changes—and wills that are unclear may be contested in court. The only way to ensure that your assets are properly distributed and your final wishes are followed is to create a comprehensive and legally-binding estate plan.
Attorney Raymond C. Barry can walk you through every option to create an estate plan that is tailor-made for your needs. With our assistance, you can:
- Protect your family. We initiate all measures to ensure that your spouse and children are taken care of upon your death. We can establish trusts for family members with special needs, appoint a guardian for your minor children, revise estate plans after divorce or remarriage, assign a guardian and care plan for surviving pets, and explore other ways to provide for your nearest and dearest.
- Protect your assets. You may already have designated a responsible family member as executor of your estate in your will. However, all properties are required by law to go through a process called probate, where they are held until all outstanding debts are paid. Probate is often expensive and time-consuming, and can deplete the value of a home and assets by thousands of dollars. We can establish living trusts during your lifetime to avoid probate after your death, as well as minimizing the amount of tax on the items held in trust.
- Protect your business. If you are a business owner or partner in an LLC, your business holdings are at extreme risk if you do not have a clear succession plan in place. Not only are your remaining partners left without any direction, the amount of estate tax you owe could bankrupt the business. We can take advantage of tax laws to protect small business owners, draft buy-sell agreements to protect remaining partners, and establish a business plan to guide the company after the death or incapacity of an owner.
- Protect yourself. Your estate plan doesn’t just provide for others, it can also provide for you. Healthcare proxies, known in Michigan as patient advocates, are a vital part of your estate plan. These designated friends or family members are given durable power of attorney over your health care and finances, allowing them to make decisions on your behalf if you become injured or incapacitated. In addition to helping you choose your patient advocate, we can establish a Lady Bird deed, giving you control over your assets without denying you access to state and federal health benefits.
We understand that there are many options available to Michigan residents when it comes to choosing their path for the future. That is why we always take the time to explain your choices and our recommendations, and can come to you if it is more convenient. Fill out our online contact form today to get started!