Many people here in Michigan know all too well that they should have an estate plan, or at least a will, in place, but that doesn’t mean they will make it happen. Whether it is due to reluctance to think about the end of one’s life or not knowing how to begin, estate planning can often feel intimidating for people, especially if they don’t have a large amount of assets to distribute. However, its importance cannot be overstated and can save one’s heirs and beneficiaries a great deal of time and frustration. Here are a few simple tips for getting estate planning going.
The first step might be the most obvious, but it will direct the other subsequent steps. Estate owners will want to determine exactly what assets they own, including property, possessions, retirement accounts or a stake in a business, and what those assets are worth. Once that is completed, designating a power of attorney typically comes next, as this person may end up assisting an estate owner with financial or medical choices while he or she is still alive.
As for the distribution of assets upon the owner’s death, that is where a will comes in. This legal document appoints an executor who will ensure the estate owner’s wishes are carried out. Having a working understanding of tax law can be beneficial, as an estate owner’s individual situation can drastically alter how an inheritance may be taxed. Working with a professional on this issue, such as a financial advisor, may be for the best.
One last suggestion is to write down a statement of desires that can guide an executor with any issues that a will or estate plan may not cover, such as wishes for a funeral service. However, this statement would not normally be considered legal documentation. The safest option for any facet of estate planning is to work with a Michigan attorney who understands this type of case law and who will make certain that one’s desires are legally documented.