Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning Your Estate
Deciding what will happen to your estate after your death can be an emotional and difficult process, but it can also save a decedent’s loved ones a significant amount of stress and worry. Fortunately, in Michigan, there are a variety of ways to plan for the disposal of an estate. Many residents choose to create a will specifically designating who will gain ownership of certain assets upon his or her death. Others choose to create a living trust or a testamentary trust, which are agreements under which assets are held and managed by an individual for the financial benefit of another. Whether you choose to establish a trust or write a will, it is important to have the advice of an < experienced estate planning attorney who can help you create a legally binding agreement that will protect both you and your loved ones.
Planning An Estate
Before planning an estate, it is important to take a few preliminary steps, including:
- Identifying all living relatives who are to receive assets under the terms of the will or trust, including their addresses and relationship to the testator;
- Listing all real estate property, financial assets, and personal possessions, including their values and their locations;
- Estimating expected estate taxes, legal fees, and funeral expenses; and
- Creating a rough plan for how the assets will be divided.
What to Include in an Estate Plan
It is critical to include certain information when drafting a will or trust, including:
- Who will receive the testator’s property, including real estate, personal items, stocks, bank accounts, and retirement funds;
- The names of alternate beneficiaries who will inherit the assets in the event that the original beneficiaries predecease the testator;
- Who will act as an executor and administer the estate after the testator’s death;
- The identity of a back-up executor;
- The name of the person who will act as a trustee and manage assets in the trust until they are distributed;
- The name of the person who will act as a guardian to any minor children;
- A provision conferring power of attorney on someone to manage the testator’s financial affairs in the event of illness or mental incompetence;
- If establishing a trust, a provision stating when the beneficiaries will receive the assets contained in the trust;
- Any bequests intended for charity;
- Instructions for how the testator’s business should be operated; and
- The testator’s signature and the signatures of two witnesses.
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Today
Although contemplating death is emotional and often painful, it is in the best interest of all parties to make plans for that eventuality. For instance, knowing that his or her family will be financially provided for can put both a testator and his or her family member’s minds at ease. Organizing and dividing up assets and property can be a complex process, so if you or a loved one have not written a will or established a trust, please contact The Law Offices of David L. Carrier, P.C. by calling 616-361-8400 and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Michigan estate planning attorney.