Grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult enough without problems in settling an estate. Preparing a will or trust in advance can alleviate stress for you family and ensure that your property is distributed as you wish, as opposed to a distribution by the court according to Michigan law. However, whether a will or a trust is better for your situation depends on what assets you have, what tax planning you may need, and whether there are any minor or protected individuals involved. Also, there are many different types of trusts designed to meet specific purposes. Contact us to see what the most appropriate estate planning tool is for you.
Probate – When an individual dies either with or without a will (and no trust) in place, that person’s estate must go through the court procedure of probate. This procedure determines who gets the decedent’s assets. If there is a will, you may need an attorney to guide you through the legal process to settle that estate. If there is not a will, you may not only need an attorney to guide you through the probate process but also to explain who is entitled to take under Michigan law. For help with probating an estate, please contact us.
Powers of attorney are a tool to relieve your family from unnecessary stress, court procedures, and additional costs if you should become legally incompetent, whether temporarily or permanently.
There are two types of powers of attorney:
With a POA for finances, you can choose who will handle your assets, pay your bills, and make legal transactions on your behalf if you should become temporarily or permanently incompetent. You may also choose the powers this person has and whether they take effect immediately or are dependent on some event. At Caswell Law PLLC, we include provisions in POA’s beyond those required by Michigan law to give you the greatest protection available while permitting your agent to make the best choices for you.
With a medical POA, you can choose in advance who will make your medical decisions if you are unable to do so. Hospital personnel may not know or want to follow your health care wishes or may, by law, have to follow the orders of a relative you may not want making decisions for you. Under a medical POA, you choose the patient advocate who will make the decisions he or she thinks are best for you, knowing what you would choose for yourself. You may also state your specific health care preferences in the POA, directing medical personnel to follow your wishes, and there are now options in Michigan for mental health care planning as well.