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Estate planning documents to consider

While most individuals in Michigan and elsewhere may consider creating a will sufficient to protect their wealth and communicate their wishes, estate planning can involve other types of arrangements. For example, powers of attorney may be utilized to protect a person's financial interests at the timing of his or her choosing.

A power of attorney permits a principal to designate an agent to act on his or her behalf. This designation may be made if the principal is sick, out of the country or becomes incapacitated. This step is important because it allows a person to provide this special designation to a trusted individual or entity, rather than wait for a court to appoint a conservator. A medical power of attorney allows a principal to designate an agent to make important medical decisions on his or her behalf. A principal can make important instructions or give broad discretion to the agent. A similar option is a living will, which allows a person to instruct healthcare providers how to behave if he or she is unconscious or incompetent. This document overrides a medical power of attorney and can stipulate the type of end-of-life treatment to be received.

Another important document that may be part of an estate plan is a personal property declaration. A person may prepare a list of instructions in order to state how his or her tangible personal property should be handled upon death. This type of instrument,less formal than a will, can help a person dispose of items that have large sentimental value and avoid feuds within the family.

Michigan estate planning lawyers may be able to assist individuals with preparing a will or trust. They may also be able to prepare powers of attorney, living wills and other documents that are important to a complete estate plan.

Source: The Gazette, "MONEY & THE LAW: Estate planning goes beyond wills", Jim Flynn, September 15, 2013

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