Great question. Your father 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, he needs to put someone in place for financial and medical decisions if he can no longer handle his 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. Second, your father must make sure he has a Will or Trust to handle his assets after he is gone. This is to make sure his assets are handed down in the most efficient, tax-friendly way possible. Third, your father 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.
If you would like to start the planning process to determine what your father needs before his surgery you can contact us at 517-548-7400.
Monika N. Burrell is an attorney with the law firm of Matecun, Thomas & Olson, PLC in Howell. She is an accredited attorney by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and focuses on estate planning, elder law, senior Veterans’ benefits, probate and trust administration. Visit us at www.MichiganEstatePlans.com. The information in this column is not intended as legal advice.