Estate Planning During a Pandemic

If completing an estate plan has been on your to-do list for years – now is the time to get it done. Now is the time to check in with your loved ones on whether they need to do some planning while we face a global health crisis. No matter the size of your resources – we all need some planning in place. Here are the key documents you should consider.

  1. Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This document allows you to designate who gets to make medical care, mental health, and custody decisions for you when two doctors put in writing after examining you that you cannot make decisions for yourself. Everyone needs this important document.
  2. General Durable Power of Attorney for Finances. If you want to avoid a court process to have a conservator named for you, then you need to identify who you trust to handle your bank accounts, investments, and the details of your finances and accounts. This document gives someone permission (either immediately or upon your incapacity) to pay your bills, manage your investments, and just keep life going for you when you need help the most.
  3. Last Will and Testament. Michigan law provides who is entitled to inherit what you leave behind if you don’t memorialize your wishes in a properly signed will. Family relationships can be complicated, and we might not like what Michigan law has to say about who inherits from us. While a will doesn’t avoid probate, creating a will is a great start to getting your wishes memorialized on who should handle your estate (called a personal representative) and who is to receive the assets of your estate.
  4. Probate Avoidance. If you wish to avoid probate you can do so by creating a trust and directing your assets to the trust (by changing the owner to the trust or naming the trust as beneficiary) or by making sure that all assets you own have beneficiary designations associated with them. A revocable living trust is commonly used to ensure that the person you choose (called a trustee) handles your final affairs, pays your final bills, deals with your personal property, and divides your assets in accordance with your wishes. Trusts can allow you to control the timing of distribution of assets and allow you to leave an organized system in place for wrapping up your financial affairs. If a trust is not right for you, make a list of all your assets and check with the company that holds each asset if you have designated a beneficiary to receive that asset upon your death.
  5. Planning for Your Home. Most estates end up in probate for a lack of planning with a home. A ladybird deed allows you to keep a home in your name but passes it to people or a trust upon your death. If you have a trust, you can transfer your home into the trust now, so it won’t have to go to probate. You should be sure to get proper advice about the advantages and disadvantages of these options as there is a lot to think through before choosing what type of deed is best for you.

Let us help you and your loved ones with this important planning at this critical time. Please call us to discuss what plan is right for you and how we can get that plan setup for you now.

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