People often think about estate planning at the birth of a child, prior to a big vacation, after a divorce, or after the death of a family member or friend. It is important to maintain an updated estate plan as assets, circumstances, and the law change in ways that affect previous estate plan decisions. An estate plan that was suitable when developed can become unsuitable as the law and circumstances change. It can be more important to keep an estate plan up to date than it is to prepare one in the first place. At Damon, Ver Merris, Boyko & Witte, PLC we have experience helping people create and maintain appropriate estate plans.
Comprehensive Estate Plans
An estate plan should involve more than a Will. Our estate planning lawyers work with clients to understand their situation and help them develop a comprehensive estate plan that meets their goals and objectives. Some of the estate planning tools our firm employs include:
A Will is your instructions concerning the distribution of your property when you die. You can also appoint a guardian and conservator for your minor children.
A living will designates the person who will make the end of life decisions you want made on your behalf if you are incapacitated and can not make medical decisions for yourself (also called a Patient Advocate Designation).
Advanced Medical Directives
Only you truly know what medical decisions you want made. Advanced medical directives provide guidance for your Patient Advocate to act in accordance with your wishes in making decisions regarding your care.
Powers of Attorney
People may lose their ability to make sound financial decisions. Powers of Attorney give the person you designate the authority to make financial and other decisions on your behalf and handle financial matters without having to seek that authority from the Probate Court.
Trusts provide a way to transfer property without going through the probate process. They also provide efficient means to delay the distribution of property to minor children and others who may be unable or unprepared to handle it properly. Trusts can also help to minimize or eliminate estate taxes in larger estates. Our firm has set up many types of Trusts including Revocable Living Trusts, Special Needs Trusts, and Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts, as well as trusts that serve charitable purposes such as CRATs and CRUTs and the like.
In addition, we have experience developing estate plans involving closely held and family owned businesses. We can help clients develop succession plans to transfer the control of their businesses to their families or to key employees.
It is common for people to dread probate when someone dies. Although probate is usually not, and needs not be, the difficult experience people fear, it may still be desirable to take steps to avoid probate if possible. There are many ways to avoid probate, and people often try to do so without qualified professional assistance. That is often a mistake and can have serious unintended consequences and create more problems than it solves. Our attorneys can help you do what is necessary and appropriate to arrange your assets and affairs to avoid probate without potentially making matters worse through a “do-it-yourself” estate plan. You have worked all your life to accumulate assets that you would like to go to family members and others. Isn’t it worth spending a little time and money to make sure your wishes are fulfilled?
Learn more about Wills and Trusts here.
Damon, Ver Merris, Boyko & Witte, PLC
825 Parchment Drive S.E. Suite 100, Grand Rapids, MI 49546-2382