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Wills and Trusts

A Will is document prepared while you are legally competent, which spells out how you want your estate to be administered. A Will allows you to determine who will administer your estate and how your assets will be managed and distributed, based on decisions you have made with your family and estate attorney. Without a Last Will and Testament an estate will be distributed according to how the State of Michigan has determined.

A trust is the most popular legal mechanism for avoiding the necessity of the probate process to distribute a deceased individual’s assets. For most people, the biggest reason to get a Revocable Living Trust is to avoid the time and expense of the probate process. A Revocable Living Trust is the most popular. A properly designed trust has many other benefits, including potentially: protection during an illness or incapacity; it can be perpetual (lasts after death); privacy (wills must be probated and are public information); and even some tax savings. There are many types of trusts and your legal advisor can explain what type of trust might be necessary at your present position in life.

After loved ones pass away, we assist our clients in trust and probate administration. These matters often arise unexpectedly at highly emotional times in the wake of losing a loved one. We are sensitive to these issues, and bring our substantial expertise in this area to bear so you can focus your attention on grieving and not on court filings and legal minutia.

Common Terms

Last Will and Testament ("Will") - A Will allows you to control "who gets what" after you pass away.  It also lets you nominate who will care for the daily needs (guardian) and financial needs (conservator) for any minor children. In Michigan, all Wills are subject to the probate process.  We’ll make sure your understand exactly how your plan will work for your and your family.

Trusts - A trust is a legal document that creates an entity to hold assets for the benefit of a person, persons or entities, called beneficiaries. There are many types of trusts available in our estate planning toolbox.  Structured correctly, trusts can give you greater control of the disposition of your assets, can provide substantial tax benefits, may protect your assets from the reach of your heirs' creditors, and, most importantly, are not subject to probate in Michigan.

Revocable Living Trust - Probably the most common trust is the revocable living trust (RLT).  Placing your assets in an RLT allows you to maintain complete control over them while you are alive, after death, and potentially for generations to come.  RLT's give you the flexibility to choose when to transfer assets to the trust--all at once, or as you acquire new ones--allowing for ongoing financial management.

Patient Advocate Directives (Advance Directives, Living Will, Health Care Powers of Attorney) - These devices allow you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you become so injured or ill that you are not able to make decisions on your own regarding medical treatment options. In addition, HIPAA Authorization allows your loved ones and key decision makers to access medical information about your condition when they need it.

Codicil - An amendment to a Last Will and Testament. The Codicil may modify, add to, subtract from, qualify, alter or revoke provisions of a Last Will. As such the Codicil is a separate document that must be signed with the same legal formalities as the Last Will itself.