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Wills & Trusts (and other handy Estate Planning documents)

by John J. Keenan on Sep. 06, 2012

Estate Estate Planning Estate  Trusts Estate  Wills & Probate 

Summary: There are no good excuses for not having Estate Planning documents in place.

Wills & Trusts (and other handy Estate Planning documents)


I recently read that approximately 70% of our population does not have a Will.  That is an astonishing figure. 


I have heard all of the excuses for not making a Will; “I don’t want to think about dying”, “I don’t have that much to leave to my relatives”, “It’s too expensive”, and my personal favorite, “I’m afraid if I make a Will, I will be tempting Fate to do me in”.  Trust me on this; making a Will will not result in your early demise. 


Having a Will or, better yet, a Will and Trust, in effect at your death is one of the most thoughtful things you can do for your family.  They are so versatile.  You don’t have to limit your instructions to “who gets what”.  You can make your funeral wishes known, set up a Trust for that kid who just doesn’t know how to handle money, set up Educational Trusts for the grandkids to help them with college expenses, protect the government benefits of a disabled or special needs child or relative, make sure someone will care for your dog, have a plan in place for your family to be able to continue enjoying the cottage Up North for years to come.  The options are endless.


Your loved ones are busy enough when you pass away; making funeral arrangements, notifying other family members, friends, creditors, insurers, etc.  Not to mention, grieving.  Making your wishes known with a Will, or Will and Trust, can make a very challenging time a little less difficult.


In addition, we would advise you to execute a Power of Attorney, so that a trusted family member or friend can handle your financial affairs should you become unable to do so; and a Patient Advocate Designation in the event you are in the hospital and are unable to make decisions with regard to your treatment.


These documents; a Will or Will and Trust, a Power of Attorney, and a Patient Advocate Designation (which also includes a Living Will setting forth the treatment you would like to have should you become terminally ill); are one of the greatest gifts you can give your family. 


Without them, your loved ones can end up mired in paperwork in the Probate Court for months, or years. 


Without them, if you become unable to handle your financial affairs, someone has to go to Probate Court to become your Conservator. 


Without them, if you are in the hospital and can’t participate in treatment decisions, someone has to go to Probate Court to become your Guardian.


And a Trust can even allow your family to avoid having to probate any of your assets.  The Trustee you have appointed just conveys your assets to the Beneficiary/ies you have named, and that is the end of it.  No Probate Court hassles.


Once you have executed these documents, that doesn’t mean your plans are set in stone.  You can always amend them.  If your circumstances change, or the circumstances of your beneficiaries should change, you can just have your attorney update your documents to reflect those changes.


So, get over your reservations about having these documents prepared for you and see an attorney sooner, rather than later.  Then, you and your family will have one less thing to worry about.  And who needs any more things to worry about?

All information contained in this article pertains to Michigan law only.

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