Estate Planning: Is It Important to Talk to Your Children About Your End of Life Plan?

Estate planning is a vital part of creating a plan of action for your untimely passing or inability to care for yourself.  Creating a will and/or a trust is not good enough when it comes to preparing for your future.  Instead, creating an estate plan allows you to plan for and organize your assets while appointing a person of your choosing to continue to organize and maintain your assets when you are no longer able to handle these things yourself or are not there to do so.

In the process of estate planning it is necessary to inform the people affected by your estate plan of your desires.  It is important to discuss your desires with your children about the details of your wishes so that they are aware of what to expect.  If your children are under the age of eighteen there should be a detailed discussion about guardianship.  Appointing a guardian requires consent from the willing party as well.  These people need to be conscious of your choices regarding their inheritance, financial expenses, funeral expenses, power of attorney, and more.

Discussing Your Estate Plan with Your Children

A discussion with your children about estate planning with your children helps to ensure that they are not surprised by the final plan.  Sharing your plan of action becomes especially important if you are planning on treating the beneficiaries differently.  Not only will this allow you to smooth out rising controversies, it will also help to give you their perspective on your decisions. A prime example occurs a lot during second marriages.  When you are giving something substantial to your spouse, who is not the mother of your children, from an inheritance that they assume is theirs this will help to give them a head start to wrap their thinking around it.

When and How to Talk with Your Children

It is crucial to find an appropriate time to make your estate plan known to your children and other necessary family members.  Make sure when you are discussing this matter that everyone involved in accounted for during this meeting.    Appropriate timing usually doesn’t exit on family holidays, weddings, or birthday celebrations.  What you will want to do is to schedule a meeting where you can all be gathered together to discuss your end of life plan specifically.  Sometimes, when an estate plan is complicated, it is best to meet with your estate planning attorney so that they can help you explain any areas of concern or technicalities to your loved ones.  When you are scheduling this meeting give participants an idea of what you are meeting about so that they have time to think about what to expect.

What to Talk About with Your Family

It is of the utmost importance for you to organize the points you want to discuss when talking to your family about the estate plan.  Be sure to talk with your attorney to discuss in depth your estate plan.  Understand the ins and outs before your meeting.  Gather the information about your assets, liabilities, debts, insurance plans, bonds, investment securities, business plans (if applicable), and important contacts phone numbers.

Give them the opportunity to give their feedback to your plan; listen to their suggestions on making your estate plan better, if needed.  This is also the perfect time to start discussing the need for your children to create their own estate plans to secure any future grandchildren’s futures as well.  Death is inevitable, and it is better to be prepared in case of an untimely passing.

Estate planning is a necessary and advisable step in your life’s journey. You should consider planning for your end of life before your meet any calamity and are robbed of this opportunity. It will not only safeguard your family and your assets but will be a help to smoothen the life and misery of your loved ones when you will not be around to take care of them.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

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The Importance of Hiring an Attorney When Creating an Estate Plan

When creating an estate plan, it is better to hire a professional than attempt to DIY. Although many people think they can write their own wills, the truth is, they’ll most likely leave our vital information, this voiding that which would have been useful when they’re gone. Enlisting the help of estate planning lawyers ensures that everything you leave regarding your estate when your gone will be handed in a professional manner. An estate planning lawyer knows what needs to be added in an estate plan and although you might YouTube how to do it on your own, this doesn’t mean you should or that it will stand up if contested. Here are some reasons why estate planning lawyers are better options for you will:

Estate Planning Is Complex

Even though you might Google how to do it on your own, the truth is that creating an estate plan is more complicated than you think. You need the right words, sentences and more, but in order for it to hold up solid in court it needs to follow certain laws, regulations, and guidelines. The law is always changing. You might miss some very important aspects that need to be included if you don’t know what they are. Estate planning lawyers are always kept up to date in regard to federal, state and local laws.

More Goes into Creating an Estate Plan Than Just a Will

An estate plan isn’t just a will. A will is just one document that goes into an estate plan and you might not know what the other documents that are needed are. In reality, there are a variety of different estate planning documents you’ll need to ensure your estate is handled properly after you’re gone.

Save Time

Writing an estate plan can really take a lot of time to make sure everything is correct and covered. Instead of doing it yourself, let that responsibility fall on a professional who knows what they’re doing and can do it faster than you ever could!

Third-Party Perspective

Estate planning will be objective when it comes your estate planning needs when a lawyer is allowed to assist. Thus, allowing you better insight and advice that will only benefit the estate in the end.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

What Happens If You Pass Away Without A Plan in Place?

No one likes to consider their mortality which often leads to the issue of individuals passing away without putting into place an estate plan, will, trust, or other legal documentation to distribute their assets.  Many times, people assume that they are too young to need an estate plan in place, that their assets are not worth the creation of a plan, or that getting this documentation in place is expensive.  These assumptions are in fact not true.  Obviously, the best time to document a plan to follow upon your death is far before the need to use it arises.  These plans encompass far more than just distributing your assets and tax avoidance.

Estate plans are put in place not only to be your voice upon your passing but also so that if you become incapacitated and are no longer able to make decisions for yourself that you can appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf.  If you have not appointed an individual to make choices on your behalf, then the state will step in.  If this occurs, your desires are left unknown and the state will step in to take over the process which is known as intestacy.

Intestacy rules vary from state to state.  In general, however, the distribution of assets by intestacy requires a probate proceeding.  Most families hope to avoid probate when a family member passes as it is costly, time consuming, and open to the public.  It is also frowned upon as there is no way for the state to know what your desires would have been so your assets are distributed as they see fit.

If you do not have proper documentation in place and become incapacitated a judge will decide for you who will be in charge of you and your assets.  This process is known as guardianship and conservatorship.  It can be quite an expensive for your family even if there isn’t a disagreement on your care or asset distribution.  It can often cost more than what would have been paid to have in place a proper estate plan.

In order to avoid this situation, it is crucial to take the appropriate steps which can include an all-inclusive estate plan with a living trust and power of attorney in place.  This ensures that if you become disabled or pass away the division of your assets along with your desired wished-for care are known by your family and easily executed without burdening your family.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

5 Essential Estate Planning Tips

Many individuals think that estate planning is only for the elderly; something to consider only after you have hit the golden years of retirement.  However, the truth of the matter is that an estate plan is something that should be in place no matter what stage of life you are in. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your 20s, 30s or even 60s; you should plan out your estate just in case an emergency happens. There are more things to estate planning than just a will such as trusts, health care directives, and power of attorney. These legal documents will ensure that your wishes are known at the end of your life through your passing. Here are some very basic tips on estate planning:

  1. Living Wills

Life is uncertain, so if you aren’t capable of making decisions for yourself, a living will is a must. It’s a legal document that sets forth what you want in the event that you are in a coma or vegetative state. It will detail instructions and decisions for yourself when you are still alive. For reasons of legitimacy it is important to have an attorney assist in drawing up a living will for you.  This will help to ensure that your desires are followed.

 

  1. Draw Up a Will or Trust

Besides a living will, you should also create a will, trust or both.  These are documents that sets out your wishes after you die for your family and loved ones. This details everything from personal items to financial assets and what you’d like to do with them.  An estate planning attorney should be hired to help minimize tax liabilities to your heirs upon your passing.  A will is a complex document that spells out in detail what your desires are.  It should be updated throughout the year as major life changes occur that need to be taken into account.

 

  1. Appoint a Power of Attorney (POA)

If anything happens to you, it’s important to have someone you trust make decisions for you they will be the power of attorney over your estate. This person will distribute your assets as you have stated within your estate plan.  A medical power of attorney is an individual that you have appointed to make decisions regarding your medical care.   You can have one person for both positions or split the duties between two people that you know will make sure your wishes are met.

 

  1. Designate Guardians

If you have kids under 18 years old, then you’ll have to figure out who will take care of them when you no longer can. If your spouse or partner is still alive, guardianship will automatically go to them.  Before you make the decision, you should ask whoever you are thinking about making a guardian to see how they feel about such a responsibility. If they do not want this responsibility it is in your children’s best interest to make alternative arrangements.

The best advice that you can be given regrading your estate is to meet with an attorney that will serve as a personal representative of your legal desires.  Creating an estate plan is simple with the right guidance and with regular maintenance will stay current to ensure your loved ones are not burdened by probate upon your passing.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

 

Five Common Mistakes Made In Estate Planning

As a society we tend to put discussions on topics we deem uncomfortable on the back burner often times until its too late.  This is often that case when people become unable to take care of themselves sooner than imagined or die unexpectedly. The topic of death or not being able to take care of oneself are awkward and often make the people involved anxious however, these discussions are necessary.

Estate planning is important for all adults; which includes any person eighteen and over.  Individuals need to legally render control over their assets and medical decisions to beneficiaries that will be in charge of handling the decision making that comes after death.  This person, or individuals, will be in charge of wrapping up your lives details including money in your bank account, selling your home, paying off your debts, distributing assets, and closing out accounts.  This can all be done through an estate plan that is created in conjunction with an attorney.  An estate planning lawyer will help you avoid the common mistakes that are often found in estate planning.

Not Planning at All

Not having an estate plan in place is one of the biggest mistakes that most individuals will make.  Failing to have in place legal documents that lay out the plan you have in mind for life after your death, for whatever reason, is a huge mistake.  Fact is, death is inevitable and unpredictable.  This is not a pleasant thought however we can make our passing easier on loved ones by setting a plan in place to ensure that the distribution of your assets is hassle free.

Procrastination

This is the scenario whereby an individual keep saying that he is soon doing an estate plan but keeps on moving the time in which they should do it back further and further. No one knows when eventualities will occur. When you least expect something to happen is when it most often.  It is therefore important to set a time frame to create your estate plan and be disciplined enough to stick to it.

Not Updating the Estate Plan

It could be that when one was doing estate planning, the family was still small. With time, children are born, issues like divorce and deaths occur and other family matters. When an individual fails to update the plan, this may result into complications in future and especially after the death of the owner. It is crucial with every major change that your estate plan is updated.  Once a year an estate plan review should be scheduled with your attorney to go over any and all changes over the course of the year or expected changes.

Not Finding the Best Legal Advice

Not everyone understands the law provisions for estate planning. Lots of individuals think that they can just write down what they want to happen and that the law will automatically respect your wishes.  However, this is not how probate works.  In order to be sure that the events playout after your death as you desire you need a competent attorney, specializing in estate planning, to offer legal advice and to assist you in creating a viable plan of action.

Not Finding the Right Beneficiaries

Some people give the names of their kids as their beneficiaries, but this may not work out well in future. Others think that their spouses are the best beneficiaries. It is of great importance that one keenly takes time to understand the right beneficiaries during estate planning, who will take care of his properties while he is gone and that will be in a position after your passing to do so.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

 

The Basics of Michigan Estate Planning

When you are alive and happily leading your life, you don’t have any concerns about what might happen to your assets if you are not there to own them. This isn’t carelessness, this is an oversight that can be avoided. Estate planning is what mitigates all the feuds between your beneficiaries and everything bad that is going to happen if you’re incapable of owning your assets. To efficiently carry it out, there are estate planning attorneys that can help you in devising documents and can carry you through the whole process without letting you delve into many complexities.

A probate lawyer is all you need if you’re finally thinking about naming your beneficiaries. However, before hiring any of them, make sure he or she doesn’t only focus on the documentation after your death, but also during your life.

There are six basic estate planning documents that any attorney or lawyer would carry you through.

  1. Last Will and Testament

While others might tell you that proper planning contains only trusts (explained below), we stress the importance of the last will and testament in guiding the process of asset ownership. Your will is the most basic document that decides whether your assets would do in the direction of the trust or not after they experience probate. Therefore, making it a part of your plan is necessary.

  1. Trusts

This category of documents includes two types:

Revocable living trust:

It is a document that can allow a family to avoid any kind of probate and directly be the head figures of control over the property left by you.

Castle Trust:

Besides immunity against probate and control of the assets, the castle trust also gives protection to the assets of the person who creates it; thus, protecting him or her against lawsuits.

  1. Power of Attorney (POA)

The above-stated two types of documents are mainly used for after-death decisions. However, when it comes to regulating or appointing someone as your replacement during your ailment, Financial Power of Attorney can enable you that. It is a document that gives the power of making financial decisions, paying bills, and manage other assets to the one that has been appointed instead of you.

However, upon the death of the owner, the scope of this document diminishes completely. Only then, your will and the trust would come into play.

4) Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA)

Also called a patient advocate designation, the medical power of attorney is a document that grants someone the power of taking medical decisions instead of you.

The life-span of this document is just like the one explained above, it finishes with the death of the owner.

5) Personal Care Plan

Having POA, or MPOA are two necessary things when you are ailing or are near to death. However, it is paramount for you to first draft out a personal care plan that includes instructions based on your intentions to guide how the two documents would work.

6) House Deed

Lastly, there is house deed. It is a document that legally proves the ownership of your house. Although they are in the public land records, they offer complete guidance on the fate of your property after you are no more.

As you can see, estate planning overall is fairly complex.  You should know that even a single mistake in the overall process can prove unhealthy for your beneficiaries. Therefore, if you want the future of your assets to be secured, all you’d have to do is hire an estate planning attorney or a probate lawyer in Michigan.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

Common Estate Planning Myths

We have all seen it on TV or heard about a well-to-do individual who unexpectedly dies without leaving a valid will, trust, or estate plan consequently leaving the court to dictate how the deceased’s assets are distributed to his or her living heirs. When individuals pass away without leaving an official will, their property or estate must be distributed according to the rules of intestacy where only married, civil partners, immediate children or some other close relatives can inherit the property.

Protecting Your Assets

However, if someone has a will, but it is not legally valid, probate will decide how the assets are divided and not the wishes stated in the will. Which is why you need an estate planning attorney who can help you in creating an estate plan, among other things such as avoiding probate and reducing estate taxes. It is also important to seek the advice of an estate planning attorney to ensure that your beneficiaries are protected from creditor problems, bad decision making or outside influences.

Having someone in charge after you die will also protect your assets from unexpected creditors and go a long way towards avoiding family feuds and costly probate court proceedings. It’s important to have probate lawyer so that your family members can have some security in the event of your passing, especially when you fear that disputes may arise from the disposition of property.

After all the, it is the probate lawyer who prepares and files a petition for the final will distribution. He or she can also liaise with your attorney to handle non-probate issues that require legal attention, such as obtaining payment of life insurance, payment of annuities as well as handling subsidiary probate if any property is owned in another state.

Common Estate Planning Myths:

Are you a victim of the following estate planning myths and misconceptions?

I’m Too Young for Estate Planning

Someone as young as 20 years can have a will. Therefore, starting your estate planning while you’re still young and keeping it updated regularly will keep your assets free from legal complications in the event of incapacity or death.

I Don’t Need an Attorney to do Probate

You do because the procedural requirements for probates are complex and handing the task of preparing a detailed estate plan to a personal representative will alleviate an enormous burden on you. Besides, your estate planning documents rendered invalid due to errors when you do it yourself.

I’m not Wealthy

All adults who have children or own any property or assets should plan for incapacity and death regardless of the value of their estate.

The Court Can Correct a Bias Will

Even if a will benefits one person or sibling more than the other, the court is not authorized to revise a deceased Will provided he or she executed a valid will in the first place. You may also have a revocable living trust, however, making a will is the best way to transfer guardianship of minors.

Contact Us

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at www.seanjnichols.com.  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.