When you are starting your estate plan, there are a couple of things that you need to think about. The most important question is what is your goal? Or put a different way: what do you what to accomplish with your estate plan? After you have answered this question, you and your estate planning attorney need to sort through the estate planning toolbox and determine what are the best ways for you to accomplish your goals.
Ultimately, one of the main things that a legal estate plan does is transfer ownership of property upon your death. So, we have three basic legal tools to transfer ownership: (a) a will; (b) a trust; and (c) beneficiary designations. To determine which of these is best for you, we need to investigate what your assets are and what your goals are.
A will transfers your property on death through the probate court. It is a very structured process with some oversight from a court. It also provides notice to all the heirs when major decisions are made and gives them a chance to challenge those actions. There are fees assessed by the County by the probate court. It can be confusing and daunting at times. Conversely, a trust is easier for your heirs to divide your estate. However, a trust has little to no oversight unless the other heirs hire an attorney. Beneficiary designations are attached to financial accounts or insurance contracts and allow for automatic transfers on death. These require that the designations are made.. They also can be different than the estate plan. This different distribution can be good if you desire a different distribution. However, it can give rise to fights if heirs feel slighted.
Just as you would not use a screwdriver to hammer a nail, you would not use a will if you want the estate distributed over time to prevent an heir from spending it all at one time. In determining your assets and goals, we can match the proper tool with you plan.
One of the main reasons to do an estate plan is to give yourself the piece of mind that if something should happen to you, your heirs will be taken care. Through the process of evaluating your assets and goals and making sure that we properly fund your plan, we can ensure that you have the piece of mind.
Dafoe Law, PLLC is a Estate Planning law firm serving the Estate Planning, long-term care, probate, and trust administration needs of clients in Saginaw, Bay, Genesee, Huron and Tuscola Counties. Dafoe Law serves Frankenmuth, Bridgeport, Birch Run, Reese, Millington, Clio, Vassar, Saginaw, Saginaw Township, Freeland, Thomas Township, Spaulding Township, Burt, Bay City, Essexville, Munger, Kochville Township, Caro, Cass City, Sebewaing, Unionville, Pigeon, Bad Axe. Travis I. Dafoe is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorney and WealthCounsel. Dafoe Law, PLLC is also a member of the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association. Start estate plan