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Interaction of estate plan documents

For the instruments of estate planning to work in Michigan, all of the aspects and perspectives need to function in harmony with one another. As an example, living trusts and power of attorneys are often used when the principal is incapacitated. The trust would likely need to require the trustee to provide the agent under the power of attorney with funds as may be needed. The will, power of attorney and payable on death beneficiary designations can also also interrelate. An agent appointed under a power of attorney may be able to update designations, and the will can authorize the surviving spouse to make changes as well.

A power of attorney for personal care, advance health care directive, and power of attorney for property and finances can overlap also. The power of attorney for personal care and the health care directive agents can make health care and living arrangements. They will need to be paid, which requires the cooperation of the appointed attorney and trustee. A person's ownership documents should be consistent with the estate plan as well, and be connected to other estate planning instruments in order to work harmoniously and ensure proper distribution.

Certain types of trusts are important parts of estate planning along with other components. A properly-drawn will as well as a health care power of attorney and a living will are crucial elements in estate planning as well.

An estate planning attorney may be able to help craft a plan that incorporates a client's wishes and takes into account the needs of family members and beneficiaries. The attorney may also be able to assist in a periodic review of the resulting documents.

Source: Lake County News, "Estate Planning: Harmonizing the entire estate plan", Dennis Fordham, December 28, 2013

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