It’s important to plan ahead for the disposition of an estate. The Hammond Law Firm PLLC can help you create a plan so upon an individual’s death, assets can be transferred or distributed in accordance with the wishes of that individual. Estate planning is a process that involves the creation of a plan for the management of an individual’s assets and affairs, during any periods of incapacity, and at the individual’s death. The typical estate plan generally consists of some combination of the following documents:
This is the document wherein one individual (the Principal) gives legal authority to another individual or entity (the Agent) to manage the Principal’s financial and business affairs during any periods of the Principal’s incapacity. This appointment of authority can be given to take effect immediately or only upon the Principal’s incapacity, whichever is more appropriate under each particular Principal’s circumstances. The authority given in this document ends at the Principal’s death.
This is the document wherein one individual (the Patient) gives legal authority to another individual (the Patient Advocate) to make decisions regarding the Patient’s medical and other health care needs during any periods of the Patient’s incapacity. Unlike the financial power of attorney, the Patient Advocate’s authority under this document can only be exercised at the point where the Patient cannot make his or her own medical and health care decisions due to the Patient’s incapacity. Like the financial power of attorney, the authority given in this document ends at the Patient’s death.
This is the document wherein an individual (the Testator) gives direction regarding the distribution of the Testator’s property at his or her death. Direction can be given regarding who will receive the Testator’s property, what amounts such individuals will receive, and when such individuals will receive the property. The Testator also nominates a specific individual or entity to serve as the Personal Representative of the Testator’s estate. The Personal Representative is the individual or entity who is responsible for the administration of the Testator’s estate (i.e., the collection of assets, the payment of debts and taxes, and the distribution of the estate assets). Individuals can also nominate Guardians and Conservators for their minor children or their adult disabled children. Having a Last Will and Testament is certainly better than leaving the management and distribution of one’s estate up to Michigan’s default laws of intestacy (dying without a will). However, the use of a Last Will and Testament without the incorporation of a Revocable Living Trust will not allow an individual to plan for the avoidance of a costly, lengthy, and stressful probate proceeding at his or her death.
Like a Last Will and Testament, a Revocable Living Trust allows an individual (the Grantor) to give direction regarding the distribution of the Grantor’s property at his or her death. However, unlike a Last Will and Testament, the use of a Revocable Living Trust enables an individual to (1) provide direction regarding the management and distribution of trust assets for his or her benefit during any periods of incapacity and at his or her death; (2) provide direction regarding the ongoing management and distribution of assets for the benefit of his or her minor children, special needs children, or any other beneficiaries who the Grantor believes would benefit from a specialized plan of asset management and distribution; (3) minimize or eliminate certain tax liabilities that would otherwise arise at his or her death; and (4) plan for the avoidance of a costly, lengthy, and stressful probate proceeding at his or her death. Assets that are titled into the name of the trust are managed by a Trustee, who is typically the Grantor during his or her life while not incapacitated, and by a Successor Trustee at the Grantor’s death and during any periods of the Grantor’s incapacity.
You can be assured that The Hammond Law Firm PLLC will be your trusted partner in the estate planning process. Please note these estate planning steps: