An effective estate plan usually includes a will, a trust, a durable general power of attorney, and a designation of patient advocate.  It is well worth the time and effort to put an estate plan into place because the plan will enable you to achieve important protections for yourself and your family.

These protections include:

  1. Ensuring that your assets will be distributed as you intend. Dying without a will or trust to specify how your assets should be divided may result in your spouse, children, or other intended beneficiaries receiving less than needed or intended.  If you die without a will (that is, die “intestate”), Michigan intestacy law (instead of you) will direct how your assets will be distributed.
  2. Ensuring that the trusted relative or friend that you nominate in your will is given care of your minor children as well as the authority to make decisions about their money, education, and way of life. If no guardian is nominated and both parents are deceased, the court will decide who will take care of your children and make decisions concerning them.
  3. Getting your property to your beneficiaries quickly and without unnecessary complications or cost through appropriate beneficiary designations, use of joint tenancy, a living trust, or simplified probate administration.
  4. Planning for medical issues during mental or physical incapacity by designating a patient advocate to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able to do so and by setting forth your wishes regarding end of life issues.
  5. Planning for financial management during mental or physical incapacity or when you are otherwise not available by using a durable power of attorney to designate a trusted person to handle your financial matters.
  6. Simplifying administration of your probate estate or trust estate by appointing a trustworthy and competent personal representative in your will to administer your probate estate and a trustworthy and competent trustee to administer your trust.
  7. Designating a funeral representative to help ensure that your wishes regarding your funeral are carried out without unnecessary delay, cost, or controversy.
  8. Reducing or eliminating taxes by making sure that the government receives the minimum in taxes allowed by law and that your beneficiaries receive the maximum benefits allowed by law.
  9. Benefiting a favorite charitable cause while taking advantage of tax breaks.
  10. Providing for a disabled beneficiary without disqualifying that beneficiary from receiving government assistance or reducing that assistance.
  11. Providing accessibility to your digital assets to your named agent under your power of attorney, the trustee of your trust, and/or the personal representative of your estate and compiling a list of your digital assets such as online bank accounts, online brokerage accounts, and other e-commerce or marketplace accounts and their passwords so that those fiduciaries can access and manage those assets without unnecessary difficulty ordelaywhen appropriate.
  12. Protecting your privacy by limiting or prohibiting access to certain digital assets such as email accounts, social media accounts, and cloud storage accounts that you wish to keep private.

For further information regarding your estate planning needs, please contact Patrice Ticknor at 313-496-1200 or, or a member of Berry Moorman’s Estate Planning Group.