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Estate Planning Attorney in Michigan

It is reassuring when you can plan for the future and ensure the security of your loved ones in Michigan, especially in the event something happens to you. This is what we call estate planning, and it isn't something that a select few do, but something we should all do because it's about our own health and security just as much as it is about assets and family members.

At the law office of Andrew Byers, our estate planning attorney in Troy is here to guide you through the intricacies of estate planning. Whether you have a complex estate or a modest one, we provide personalized solutions to ensure that your legacy is preserved and your loved ones are taken care of. Contact us today at (248) 469-4261 to schedule a consultation.

Why Estate Planning in Michigan is Important

Estate planning is a proactive and strategic approach to managing your assets, affairs, and health during your lifetime and after your passing. Probably the easiest way to understand why it is so important to have an estate plan is to consider the alternative: not having one when you become incapacitated or die.

Consequences of Incapacity without an Estate Plan

If you become incapacitated due to an illness or another health condition and do not have an estate plan, your treatment preferences or financial matters may not be handled in the manner you would have wanted. 

For example, what if the illness has led to you being semi-conscious, unable to understand or communicate with your doctors, and the prognosis is not good? In such a situation, you might have preferred not to be resuscitated if your health turned for the worst or undergo uncomfortable surgeries or other treatments. Family members, however, did not know what you wanted in such situations and tell doctors to continue treatment. If you had had a Patient Advocate Designation with a Living Will provision, which would have been part of a comprehensive estate plan, your wishes would have been honored. Without it, the doctors look to a spouse, another family member, or a court-appointed guardian to determine what to do, and they may decide based on their own personal wishes rather than yours.

At the same time, what if you become incapacitated due to an illness like cancer, and the treatment or therapy makes it hard for you to manage your property or pay your bills? An estate plan can make sure you have a durable power of attorney or living trust plan established to proactively address these types of situations. 

Consequences of Dying without an Estate Plan

If you die without an estate plan, which would have included a Last Will and Testament, you die intestate. As such, your assets are distributed according to state law, which means not you, but Michigan's intestate succession laws determine the order of priority for distributing assets among surviving family members. If you are married, this means that your spouse may have to split your estate with your children at your death; most people prefer to have the children inherit if their spouse does not survive them. If you are married and have no children, your spouse may have to split the estate with your parents. If you are single and have no children, other relatives, such as distant cousins, may inherit from you, even though you may have preferred to leave some of your estate to close friends, charities, or organizations that you support. On the other hand, if no heirs are found, assets may escheat, or revert, to the State of Michigan.

Dying without an estate plan also causes delays in the distribution of your assets because your estate must go through probate. It increases the potential for challenges and fighting among family members, leading to potential legal battles. All of this is time-consuming and costly. 

Further, if you have minor children or an adult child with special needs, dying intestate leads to uncertainty as to who will be appointed the guardian and what will happen to your children and their inheritance. Much of the latter will be up to the court to decide, and it is the least equipped to understand what their needs are.

Finally, intestacy may lead to increased tax liabilities for your heirs, as distribution may not be optimized for tax efficiency. 

Should You Consider an Estate Plan in Troy, Michigan?

Knowing that the consequences of dying intestate are serious, who does an estate plan benefit? If you answer affirmatively to any of the below questions, you should contact our estate planning attorney in Troy, Michigan. Regardless of how you answer, it never hurts to get questions about estate plans answered.

  1. Do you have assets? Estate planning allows you to dictate how your assets will be distributed after your death, ensuring that your loved ones receive their intended inheritances and minimizing potential conflicts among beneficiaries. Assets include anything from a house, other real estate, cash, bank accounts, investment accounts, stocks, digital assets, life insurance, collectibles (e.g., art or antiques), cars, furniture, and more.
  2. Do you want to estate taxes? Through strategic estate planning, you can employ legal techniques to minimize estate and income taxes, preserving more of your wealth for future generations.
  3. Do you have children? Estate planning enables you to designate guardians and trustees for your minor children, ensuring their care and upbringing are entrusted to the individuals you choose. Estate planning also enables you to help secure and protect the future of an adult child with special needs.
  4. Do you want to make healthcare decisions in the case you become incapacitated? With comprehensive estate planning, you can establish advance healthcare directives and appoint a trusted individual to act as your patient advocate and make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
  5. Do you own a business? For business owners, estate planning facilitates a smooth transition of business ownership and management, preserving the value you've built and securing the future of your enterprise.

Estate planning is essential for individuals of all ages and asset levels. It is not just for the wealthy. Whether you have substantial assets, a blended family, dependents with special needs, or charitable intentions, estate planning provides the framework to protect your interests and ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Benefits of Estate Planning

The benefits resulting from an estate plan in Michigan directly relate to why it is important to create and maintain an estate plan. Optimal benefits, however, manifest when you engage our estate planning attorney. We will discuss your wishes, financial situation, health concerns, and more, to develop a comprehensive estate plan suited for you.

Some of these benefits include:

  • Customized solutions – Our estate planning attorney tailors your estate plan to your specific needs, goals, and family dynamics, ensuring that your wishes are accurately reflected in legally binding documents that comply with Michigan law.
  • Asset protection – We help shield your assets from potential creditors, lawsuits, and other threats, preserving your wealth for future generations. This can include asset protection for your children.
  • Probate avoidance – With proper estate planning, we can help minimize or avoid the potentially lengthy and costly probate process, allowing for the timely distribution of assets to beneficiaries.
  • Privacy preservation – By utilizing certain estate planning techniques, you can maintain the privacy of your estate, keeping personal and financial matters confidential.
  • Contingency planning – We assist in developing contingency plans for unforeseen events such as incapacity, ensuring that someone you trust is empowered to make decisions on your behalf.

Typical Estate Plan Documents

Comprehensive estate planning involves various legal documents, tailored to address your specific needs. Some of the more common types of estate plan documents include:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Advance directives (Patient Advocate Designations)
  • Powers of attorneys
  • Beneficiary designations
  • Guardianship designations
  • Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts for Long-term care planning
  • Deeds
  • Special Needs Trust 

There are also simple, effective and affordable estate plans that can work well for uncomplicated situations and modest estates.

Why Hire our Estate Planning Attorney in Michigan

Some people attempt to use DIY estate planning using online templates. Though these may work for some, online templates can be confusing and do not offer the insight and customization that our estate planning attorney in Michigan offers.

At the law office of Andrew Byers, we have in-depth knowledge of estate laws, regulations, long-term care issues, and tax implications. We stay updated with changes that may affect your estate plan and ensure compliance with legal requirements. Likewise, we provide personalized advice based on your unique circumstances, goals, and family dynamics. We are comfortable navigating complex scenarios, addressing potential challenges, and crafting customized solutions.

While DIY estate planning often leads to errors, inaccuracies, and omissions that can have significant consequences, we help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure that your documents are legally sound and enforceable. We also collaborate with financial advisors, accountants, and other professionals to provide holistic solutions for your estate plan. We can coordinate efforts and ensure all aspects of your plan work seamlessly together.

By entrusting your estate planning with us, you gain peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be carried out, and your loved ones will be protected. You can focus on living your life confidently, knowing that your legacy is secure.

Contact our Estate Planning Attorney in Troy, Michigan Today

Estate planning can seem overwhelming, but once you get started it is not as difficult as it may seem. The key is to work with an estate planning lawyer who is experienced with the planning process. I am an estate planning attorney in Troy, Michigan with 27 years of practical experience in drafting Wills and Trusts that I can share with you. Estate planning is one of the most important things you can do now to protect yourself, the people you care about, and your property, so feel free to contact me by using the online form or calling me directly at (248) 469-4261. On this initial call, for which there is no charge, I'll answer your preliminary questions and get some background information to make sure it's a situation that I can help with. After that, you can decide if it makes sense to schedule a more in-depth consultation.

How I Can Help

I help seniors and their families to prevent the devastating financial effects of long term care. I assist and represent clients in and from the entire metro Detroit area, including all communities in Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne Counties. In-person meetings with Andrew Byers are available at his office Monday through Friday. Video conferences over Zoom or Microsoft Teams are also available.

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