What is an estate plan?
What is an Estate Plan - And Why You Need One
Have you asked yourself what is an estate plan? Do you have a plan to protect your family and yourself when you are disabled? Or, what if you die?
An estate plan is a protective plan for life and death. Do you believe in insurance? If you do creating an estate plan is the least expensive insurance you can buy.
There are four things you will never know. First, whether you will remain physically and mentally healthy. Second, when you will die. Third, what you will own when you die. And, finally, what the Estate Tax Exemption will be when you die.
The First Reason you need an estate plan
The first reason you need a plan is to protect yourself, your spouse and your loved ones during your life time. If there are not adequate protections in place there will be nobody to make financial or health decisions in the event of a devastating disability. Even worse, without a plan the only resort is to create a Guardianship and Conservatorship for someone to take control of your affairs under court supervision.
You want to avoid a Guardianship and a Conservatorship. Proceedings of this nature cost a minimum of $3,500.00. They are extremely burdensome for the family member who becomes the Guardian and Conservator because they are required to account to the court and file reports on an annual basis. The most alarming thing of all is that the court may find your spouse unsuitable and appoint a stranger to fulfill these extremely important roles. This person becomes you – you will have very little recourse in challenging their decisions regarding your well being or finances. Finally, if you have minor children they will be in danger of being placed with somebody you don’t want to have control of their care or custody.
The second reason you need a plan
The second reason you need a plan is to insure that when you die all of your property will be accounted for and distributed according to your wishes. Without an estate plan four extremely unpleasant things WILL happen. First, assets will be lost. The unclaimed property fund in Michigan is currently 1.9 BILLION dollars. Second, unscrupulous relatives will steal from your rightful heirs without any ability to hold them accountable. Third, the law will step in to dictate how your assets are distributed. You will NOT have any say as to this. Fourth, your assets will have to go through probate.
The Third Reason You Need a Plan
You want to avoid probate. Probate is a BAD thing, basically a lawsuit against yourself for the benefit of your creditors.
Probate is EXPENSIVE, generally costing about 10% of estate. This includes : Court fees, a Bond; Personal Representative fees; Attorneys fees; and possibly Estate Taxes. The current exemption rate allows most estates to escape taxes but the exemption rate is uncertain because it changes at the whim of congress. You should know that historically taxes have been as high as 55% of the net estate. Here is an article about the high cost of probate: How Much Does Probate Cost
Probate takes a LONG TIME – at least a year. Children don’t have immediate access to their inheritances but when they turn 18 they get it all at once. And there are no provisions safeguarding them from spending it frivolously. Probate is a public proceeding and assets are not protected from loss to children due to divorce or lawsuits.
I Have the Knowledge and Experience to Help You Avoid These Problems
How do I know all this?
Because it has happened in my family and I swore it would never happen to my clients when I became a lawyer. And I’ve seen how easily it can happen just like this both personally and professionally. My grandfather did not plan properly leading to a huge battle between my mother and his second wife. I have been a part of huge battles in court over guardianships. I have been the attorney for large estates that were not planned or improperly planned, generating needless hours of time to probate. The entire reason for my professional existence is to keep people like you from having to go through this.
Protection from Life's Uncertainties...
If you don’t have a plan for making personal decisions when you are incapacitated nobody will be able to make these decisions for you. Protect yourself and your loved ones with a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, and an advanced care directive (living will) to plan for life’s challenges. Protect your children with a will naming their guardian and with a short term power of attorney. Your loved ones will be glad that you did!
Peace of Mind...
is priceless. A well drafted custom estate plan with a trust and pour over will insures your legacy, cements your wishes, removes discord, and ensures an orderly transition of your affairs. Avoid the pitfalls of probate and rest assured that things will go smoothly.
Your Children's Future is In your hands
A trust gives you the power to insure that your childrens’ dreams can come true if you aren’t there to help. Leave a legacy.