The short answer is “Yes”. You and your husband should have at least a basic estate plan in place.
If something happens to you and your husband, and you don’t have an estate plan, the probate court will decide who raises your son. A good plan will allow you to name that person, and it will also set out how your son will receive your assets after you are gone (for example, you probably don’t want him to receive everything at age 18 – instead, his inheritance can be held and used for college or other schooling and then whatever is left can be given to him at certain ages later on).
You also need to put someone in place to handle your financial and medical decisions if you become incapacitated and can no longer handle your affairs. If you haven’t planned 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 involved.
Finally, 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.
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.