Conversations about estate planning are not necessarily on the top of the list for most families. For individuals, thinking about estate planning issues may even seem foreign. People in Michigan typically have many other things on their mind.
But neglecting the issue all together may leave many unanswered questions in the future. Questions that either loved ones may have to struggle with, or in many cases, answers that the state might impose under probate laws that are not consistent with what someone actually would want.
It is well known that a number of Americans have not created a will. Most adults know of the importance of creating a will. Some adults do not believe a will can truly benefit them because of the size of their potential estate. But Michigan laws understand the importance of a will.
In fact, for Michigan residents who have not executed a will, the state essentially has laws to decide for the family how things should be taken care of after a person's death.
Estate planning does more than provide a roadmap for how assets should be handled after a death. An estate plan can use a will to explain to loved-ones how you wish to have assets distributed. An estate plan may use a trust, or set of trusts, to transfer assets and protect loved ones after an untimely death.
More than half of all Americans have not created an estate plan. Yet as we go through day to day life, many things can change over time. Our lives often include invitations to celebrate family weddings, births and a variety of life changing events. Each event may affect how assets are distributed should we face an unexpected health issue.
As a culture, we often agree on most issues in basic estate plans. Spouses expect that each other should own the home after an untimely death of the other spouse. Parents may want all of their children to share in an inheritance. But what happens if a surviving spouse remarries after the death of a first spouse?
In the absence of an estate plan to help survivors know how inheritances should be handled, the math can become complex. Add in children, or potential step-children to the mix and the math gets even more complex.
An estate plan can help to provide a roadmap of how things should be handled. That roadmap serves to help ensure an individual's true desires are followed to protect the individual's loved ones in the future.
Over time, this blog will discuss many issues that may arise in the area of estate planning. For now, it is important for people in Wayne County, and all across Michigan, to consider creating a plan to benefit their loved ones should the unexpected occur.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Estate Planning: What You Don't Say Can Hurt You," Ann Brenoff, April 23, 2012