Who Really Needs a Will in Michigan?

If you’re young, single, and don’t have a large number of assets, you might think that it’s fine to skip having a last will and testament. Far too many family members, however, discover when it’s too late that wills are not just for the rich and famous.

Regardless of how many assets you have, a will ensures that any wishes you do have around your property or guardianship of minor children are indeed heard. Furthermore, if you own a business, a will can help as part of your overall estate plan to transfer those assets.

A will is a must if you have minor children because this ensures that you are able to choose the legal guardian for your children if you were to pass away before them. You are also able to name an executor of your estate in your will. With no executor named, someone will still have to step forward and serve in this important role of personal representative. Having a say over who manages the administration of your estate can give you peace of mind and clarity for your family members over who is responsible.

This person will have the authority to ensure that your wishes are carried out and that all of your affairs have been put in proper order. The stressful and lengthy process of probate can also be avoided by incorporating not just a will but also other elements of an estate plan. Schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer in Northern Michigan.      


Discuss Your Estate Plan with Your Generation X Beneficiaries

Many people avoid bringing up the subject of estate planning or even money with their children but significant wealth will be transferred to generation X in the coming years. It is anticipated that over $68 trillion will change hands within the next few decades.

Making sure that you have an estate and that you have discussed at least some of the basic aspects of it with your children could have a significant impact on your overall legacy as well as the total amount that is paid out in estate taxes. While it might generate some uncomfortable conversations, it’s good to be prepared for this.

First of all, you can transfer money and assets the way that you want when you have completed your estate planning documents and strategies and informed your loved ones about it.

A great starting place is to ask any children that you want to instill in these roles if they are comfortable serving as the trustee, power of attorney, or executor. You can explain what each of these roles involves and their responsibilities so that they are clear about having to step into this or have the opportunity to say it’s not a fit for them. The second reason to complete your estate plan and discuss it is to minimize unnecessary expenses and taxes.

Many adult children will not have experience handling the complex issues that wealthy retirees might be facing. The list of things that can be confusing for an adult child include individual retirement accounts, life insurance proceeds, non-qualified accounts, and step up in cost basis.

There are likely key reasons why you chose all of these different kinds of accounts, but you will need to explain this to your child. Finally, having this conversation with your loved ones ensures that they know you cared. It is a valuable opportunity to connect even after you have passed away. You can share with your children what your money means to you and why you are speaking about it. This helps to model positive behavior that can encourage them to complete their own estate plan too.

Talk to our Thumb of Michigan estate planning lawyers to get support.



Have You Made a Retirement or Estate Plan with Inflation in Mind?

Inflation can have significant impacts on your ability to save for your own future. Although Americans are generally worried about the rising costs of retirement, some studies show that they are not taking as much action to address them. In fact, a recent study found that just under one quarter of respondents said they were discussing the impact of inflation with their financial professional.

A sound retirement strategy and appropriate risk mitigation knowledge can be crucial for allowing this to be accomplished. If you don’t have a plan to incorporate and guard against inflation, you could face significant challenges in retirement. The cost of living adjustment alone with social security won’t be enough to help mitigate these changes.

In 2021, for example, it’s only 1.3%. It’s good to have a retirement strategy that early on considers the possibility of long term care needs and increasing expenses in retirement. A financial professional can assist you with this strategy and it should also be reflected in your consideration of other estate planning goals, such as whether or not you purchase a long term care insurance policy or have a plan to qualify for Medicaid in the future should you need it for long term care expenses.

The support of a dedicated attorney can make a big difference in your confidence in your overall retirement plan. You should be able to enjoy your retirement with minimal concerns about your strategic goals that were set year in advance.

Our Northern MI estate planning lawyers have guided many others through the process of creating a retirement and estate plan to protect your interests.


Does Your Estate Plan Have Emotional Value?

There is a clear and direct value to your beneficiaries for creating an estate plan that makes it easy for them to receive the assets you want and decreases the probability that they’ll spend a long and costly amount of time inside probate.

However, there are other benefits to comprehensive estate planning that you might not realize in the moment but can be instrumental in making things easier for your loved ones in the future. The emotional value of estate planning should not be ignored as it can be just as or even more beneficial than the other components of your plan.

When you can better connect to the emotional value, it becomes easier for you to plan out how you’ll accomplish your estate plan tasks and support your loved ones now and in the future.

There are four primary components of the emotional value in estate plan and these include:

  • Writing down your final wishes which makes it easier for your loved ones to identify what needs to happen next after you pass away.
  • Clearly expressing your wishes about how you want to divide things using a will or trust, decreasing confusion or the possibility of a probate dispute.
  • Minimizing the possibility of family conflict when a loved one passes away by creating streamlined and clear instructions and documentation.
  • Giving your family a sense of control by completing your estate planning documents and keeping them updated as your life needs evolve.

All of these different aspects can be accomplished by working directly with an estate planning attorney. Don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation today to learn more about this process-our Thumb of MI estate planning attorneys can help you.


Are There Any Alternatives to Staying in a Nursing Home?

There are many things to think about when creating an elder law plan. At the top of the list is how you might pay for long term care. This can involve staying in a nursing home or even getting care at home to support your needs.

A nursing home is a facility that provides advanced care opportunities for those who are unable to care for themselves or don’t have the family or friends available to provide the kind of medical support they need. One of the greatest concerns of older Americans today is the possibility of ending up in a nursing home.

Although people are more mindful than ever about this possibility, this does not always mean they have properly planned for it or have the finances to cover it. Nursing homes can cost between $60,000 and $300,000 a year.

Many older Americans also prefer to stay in their own homes if it is possible for them. It is important to recognize that staying in your own home might not always be the best option because this can generate concerns for your overall physical wellbeing and the burden that it can place on family members.

One important consideration when only one family member is available to care for a parent or other older relative is the question of equity with other family members. Getting outside help is one possible alternative to a nursing home care that helps minimize the cost but still give your loved one the support that they need. Home care services can include:

  • Services delivered to the home, such as meals.
  • Home health care either part time or 24 hour care.
  • Home making and personal care.
  • Money management support.
  • Adult day care centers
  • Respite services that give caretakers a periodic break.

To discuss what is most appropriate for your family and what you want them to consider of something were to happen to you, it’s good to have your estate plan in order. Set up a call today to discuss your current estate plan and whether it aligns with the possibility of long term care expenses.


How to Share Information About Your Estate with Your Loved Ones

Having other adults in your family who are appointed as executors, trustees or guardians for your minor children means that you need to have conversations with these key people about the basics of your plan.

Sharing information about your estate plan is not a onetime process. If you anticipate retirement and life for at least several more years, these conversations can be spread out over time to ensure that the right people have the right information and understand the specifics of your individual plans.

Everyone who is immediately involved in your estate plan should be clear about their role and the kind of tasks or responsibilities that they would need to handle either after a power of attorney becomes active or after you pass away.

Some of the most important roles you’ll want to include in conversations include trustees, executors, agents for health care powers of attorney, agents for property powers of attorney and authorized individuals who have access to medical information under HIPAA laws. You might specify one primary person for your documents and one or two contingency people or backups.

Make sure that a person who has been named as a backup in any role in your estate has been notified of this responsibility as well. Every key party who is involved in your estate plan should know where to find important documents, such as trusts, wills and powers of attorney.

You’ll also want to include comprehensive access to financial records or at least a list for them to identify credit cards and investment assets, bank accounts, debt and car loans.

As you develop your elder and estate plans in MI, make sure you have informed key people about their role and what, if anything, you need from them.

No Matter the Size of Your Estate, Estate Planning is Worth Every Penny

One of the most common reasons for people to skip estate planning is because they think it doesn’t pertain to them. With limited assets, you might assume that it doesn’t create that much of a problem when you pass away.

Knowing what factors into your individual estate plan or your business succession plan is crucial regardless of your current perception of your wealth. There are many different services available that encourage you to draft these documents online, including a durable power of attorney, trust, health care proxy or will.

However, it can be worth every penny to instead schedule a consultation with a trusted estate planning lawyer who can guide you through the process and ensure that these documents are accurate for state and federal laws and able to adapt in coming years. The value of your estate plan is in the planning not in the generation of documents. Those documents could be useless if they are not filled out properly or legally valid in your state.

The three elements of your estate plan include evaluating the past, adapting your strategies and tactics to the present and anticipating challenges in the future. Document generators can use information from the past to evaluate procedures and processes as you fill out these forms.

The establishment of a personal representative or an agent for a power of attorney adapts to the present but only a relationship with a trusted estate planning advisor can help you anticipate the future. For more questions about aligning your estate plan to the present and the future, schedule a consultation with an estate planning law firm.


When is the Right Time to Meet with an Elder Law Attorney?

The truth is that there is no wrong time to sit down with a Michigan elder law attorney. But knowing what you hope to accomplish with your elder law plan can help you determine that it’s in your best interests to schedule this meeting before you have an urgent need, such as needing to qualify for Medicaid to pay for a nursing home.

Some of the most key questions answered in an elder law plan should be thought about well in advance of a crisis. What kind of care you want to receive, who has the ability to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so, and how your assets might be used to pass on to your loved ones as well as fund your own healthcare needs are just a few reasons why you want to speak with a trusted elder law attorney right away.

During your initial conversation, you’ll discuss your key issues and questions for your elder plan. This is also your chance to get your questions answered when it comes to what documents you might need and how you should approach the process. The support of an elder lawyer can be instrumental in helping to point you in the right direction. An attorney is a very valuable asset when you’re not sure what you need or how you can best proceed.

Don’t let your elder care plan be ignored. Have a goal for setting up a meeting with your elder law attorney now so you that you can plan ahead for your own future successfully.

Women Breadwinners Can’t Afford to Neglect Financial Planning

The past several decades have seen significant areas of improvement for women and financial planning. First of all, women are increasingly choosing not to get married and are increasingly serving as the primary breadwinner in plenty of households. This raises new questions around the topics of financial and estate planning.

Given that women now account for more than 40% of primary breadwinners across the country and the anticipation that women will control two-thirds of wealth in the United States by 2030, it is important for women to sit down and appreciate their financial plan and revisit it regularly.

Another common concern that comes up a lot in conversations around estate planning and elder law is that women tend to live longer than men. This risk of longevity means that women must be looking towards their retirement with the potential of living many years past a spouse or other caretakers.

This means careful contemplation around Medicaid in Michigan and other long term care issues. If a person is expected to live longer, it might mean that their investment assets, for example, need to be invested at a higher level of growth which would normally lead to higher exposure to volatility.

While this might be uncomfortable for a woman to approach, increased confidence that a person has sufficient growth to achieve their long term financial goals is critical. Another key issue that pops up for many women is the need to effectively plan for your estate. A discussion with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is often the first step in addressing these key issues. We work with many women who want to have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve taken care of an elder law and an estate plan in MI.



What You Need to Know About an Elder Care Plan?

As a loved one ages or has recently been diagnosed with a serious mental or physical condition, it can require the use of an elder care plan or the quick creation of an elder care plan. Your elder care plan can be an organizational tool or an agreement with a loved one or even a formal contract that is used to coordinate payment or necessary care services.

These plans can vary in level of detail but it is strongly recommended that if you have specific wishes about your individual care plan that you do the necessary work to document these in full. One of the most important things you can do is understand the process of creating a comprehensive care plan as you get older. This includes:

  • Assessing the current caregiving situation, such as what care is already being provided.
  • Identifying the overall goals of care and expectations.
  • Creating a comprehensive care team and deciding which professionals might already exist in your community or network and which ones might have to be contacted separately.
  • Match the necessary solutions with the care members you have identified.
  • Look at other senior care resources.
  • Put the care plan into action.

All of these situations can be discussed directly with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help you to navigate these complex decisions and important questions that might need to be asked as you go forward.

Schedule a consultation today with an estate planning attorney who can help you to ensure that your most important issues are addressed in your care plan and your loved ones are not put in the difficult situation of having to go to court to try to determine what you wanted.

Our Michigan elder law planning attorneys have a few offices to help you ensure you get the support you need.