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Estate Planning Tips to Keep Your Money in the Family
Estate Planning Tips to Keep Your Money in the Family
Estate Planning Tips to Keep Your Money in the Family
Estate Plan Lawyer » Resources » Estate Planning Tips to Keep Your Money in the Family

Today is the best time to start planning for tomorrow.  Estate planning is a process that protects your choices, your children, and helps you create and nurture generational wealth. Whether you live in Michigan or beyond, consider these tips to get started on an estate plan that keeps the needs of your family—and your money—in mind.

Plan for your family

When it comes to creating a will, learning about trusts, or considering the personal choices of an Advanced Directive, most people put off to tomorrow what they should consider today. In fact, Gallup polls suggest less than half of the adults in the US have created a basic will. The reality is that every person over the age of 18 should have basic planning in place—like an Advanced Directive—in the event you are incapacitated or become ill and are no longer able to make choices on your own behalf.

Many adults with young families feel too busy to think about estate planning, or may believe an estate plan is for older people. Yet, starting your estate plan when you have young children allows you to make important decisions, create family wealth-saving tools, provide for the guardianship of your children, and fine tune the plan as you, your children, and your financial security grows.

Creating an estate plan is one of the most important steps to safeguarding and growing the wealth of your family. Consider these estate planning tips:
Make a will: A will is a legal document that contains written direction on how to manage your assets, distribute possessions, and conclude your estate after you die. Your will gives you the opportunity to provide input on the care of your minor children, appoint a Personal Representative to carry out your will and provide clarity to loved ones who will struggle with your loss. Regardless of the size of your estate or level of family wealth, a will helps your loved ones transition more easily into a different future.

While you can write your own will, it is important for an estate planning attorney to prepare or review the will before it is signed and witnessed. The timely assistance of an attorney can help you understand how Michigan law impacts your will now and help avoid challenges to your will later.

Set up a trust: A trust is an important part of an estate plan. One aim of a trust is to keep money in the family. A trust is a written legal document whereby you place property or money under the control of another person. That person, or trustee, manages the property or trust according to your directions for the benefit of the people or organizations you name. In your estate plan, a trust can help you protect generational wealth from future creditors, liens, or divorce. You can reduce or eliminate some estate taxes, manage money for minor children or adult family members, reduce or eliminate some estate taxes, avoid probate in Michigan, and more.

Determine who will be Power of Attorney: A Power of Attorney (POA) is a document that designates another individual to act on your behalf in either a financial or medical capacity if you are unable to make your own decisions. A POA offers you peace of mind that your choices and plans are carried out by trusted representatives chosen by you. A financial POA gives your designated representative the power to make financial decisions in keeping with your directives. A medical POA authorizes your health care agent to make important medical decisions on your behalf. A financial POA is sometimes used in the normal course of business—for example, if you cannot be available for a real estate closing or other transaction. Without a POA, a legal proceeding may be needed if you are unable to make decisions or handle your affairs. Advance preparation of your POA contributes to your financial and personal medical wellbeing if needed.

Choose a guardian for your children: For parents of minor children, choosing a guardian to care for your children is a critical decision. Your children look to you for their care and to nurture their potential. That means making thoughtful decisions about who will care for them if you cannot. There are many considerations when choosing a guardian in Michigan and elsewhere. Remember, the person you choose as your stand-in now can change with the age of your children, relationships, and your parenting goals. Creating a guardian for your children gives you peace of mind and your family a stable transition in the face of the unexpected.

Choose your beneficiaries: Whether in your life insurance policy or your will, choosing beneficiaries requires thought. By creating a trust, you can transfer assets to minor children in a structured way. A beneficiary named in a policy or other investment tool can take precedence over directions you leave in your will. As laws about asset transfer may be different from state to state, The Estate Planning Firm can provide guidance on the language you need in Michigan or elsewhere.

Regularly review and revise your estate plan: Life happens. As you and your family grow, circumstances change. It is a good idea to revisit your estate plan on an annual basis and when you, or family members, pass through a major life event. Big events that can impact your estate plan include the purchase of a house, a new child, divorce, marriage, receipt of an inheritance, big changes in your business or career, death of a family member, or a needed change to your named Personal Representative or trustee.
An estate plan is not a “one and done” document. A well-organized estate plan grows with you and your family, absorbing change, protecting your family wealth, and helping you care for loved ones throughout your lives.

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