At Damon, Ver Merris, Boyko & Witte, PLC, we help clients throughout West Michigan plan for their future and the future of their families through the creation of appropriate Estate Plans. Estate plan documents may include Wills, Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney, Patient Advocate Designations (sometimes called Living Wills or Advanced Directives), and other documents. Our lawyers have helped many individuals and families in a variety of estate planning matters.
For more information about Wills, Trusts and other estate planning tools, call us at 616-975-9951 / 877-975-9951 or contact us online.
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that states an individual’s wishes to be carried out at his or her death. A Will can address a variety of topics including:
Naming guardians and conservators for minor children.
Naming a personal representative to administer the estate.
Property and asset distribution.
After an individual’s death, the process of administering his or her Will in Court is known as probate. Our lawyers can help clients with drafting a Will, as well as administering the estate after the client dies.
What is a Trust?
A Trust is a legal instrument capable of holding and distributing property. In a Trust, one person (a trustee) holds and manages property for another (the beneficiary). There are many benefits to creating a trust, including:
Avoiding probate – One of the benefits of a Trust is that it is not subject to probate at an individual’s death. Many people wish to avoid probate for a variety of reasons, including cost, publicity, and delays.
Minimizing estate taxes – By the use of appropriate trusts, an individual with a larger estate can avoid or minimize estate taxes.
Managing assets – Some people do not want to transfer their estates to their beneficiaries immediately after they die. This is often the case with larger estates or younger or incapacitated beneficiaries. The use of a proper trust can allow an orderly and appropriate distribution of assets, while allowing them to be used for the support and care of the beneficiaries until the distribution is made.
There are many types of Trusts, each with its own benefits. Some of these include:
Revocable Trusts – This type of Trust can be changed at any time by the creator of the trust (the “settlor.”) Commonly called a “revocable living trust” or “inter vivos trust”, it allows the settlor to serve as both the trustee and the beneficiary until his or her death or incapacity.
Special Needs Trusts – A special needs Trust addresses the constant and evolving needs of individuals with disabilities while protecting their rights to public assistance benefits and protecting them from bad financial decisions and the claims of creditors.
Charitable Trusts – These are another kind of irrevocable trust. There are several different kinds of charitable trusts that may be used for estate and tax planning. They can provide both income tax and estate tax benefits, and allow an individual to use his or her assets for his or her own support, and the support of his or her beneficiaries while also achieving charitable purposes.
Irrevocable Trusts – Unlike a revocable Trust, an irrevocable Trust cannot be changed under most circumstances. However, it may provide important tax or other advantages.
Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts – This type of Trust owns a life insurance policy on an individual’s life so that the insurance proceeds are not part of his or her taxable estate at the time of death. It also shields the proceeds from the claims of creditors and from federal estate taxes.
Damon, Ver Merris, Boyko & Witte, PLC
825 Parchment Drive S.E. Suite 100, Grand Rapids, MI 49546-2382