Great question. You should have at least a “base” estate plan in place. This covers three major areas: (1) incapacity, (2) wealth transfer, and (3) beneficiary protection. First, you need to put someone in place for financial and medical decisions if you can no longer handle your affairs. Be very careful here – many times a “form” or “standard” power of attorney doesn’t work the way you expect. We see powers of attorney on a regular basis that don’t cover all necessary areas. If you haven’t planned for incapacity the right way, the Probate Court gets involved and may appoint a Guardian and/or Conservator for you. Having a power of attorney and a patient advocate designation allows you to choose who you want in charge and saves you the expense of having a court decide. Second, you must make sure you have a Will or Trust to handle your assets after you’re gone. This is to make sure your assets are handed down in the most efficient, tax-friendly way possible. Third, you should consider “beneficiary protection”. For example, if a beneficiary has creditor problems, a bad marriage, substance abuse issues, etc., we can set up a plan to protect that beneficiary’s inheritance.
I offer a free consultation to review what you already have in place to make sure your “base” estate plan is effective. Please contact my office to review your estate plan today.
Glenn Matecun is a partner with the law firm of Matecun, Thomas & Olson, PLC in Howell. He is an attorney focusing on estate planning, elder law and senior Veterans’ benefits, and answers readers’ questions on legal matters affecting individuals, their families and their businesses. Email questions to [email protected], or if your question is urgent, call (517) 548-7400. Visit us at www.MichiganEstatePlans.com. The information in this column is not intended as legal advice.