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.


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.


An Estate Plan Is Needed Even If You Do Not Have Children

Individuals with children usually create an estate plan as the result of advice from financial advisor and estate attorney.  This is due to a sense of urgency and need to ensure there is a laid down plan to cater for the needs of their children in the event of an untimely demise. On the other hand, those without children tend to ignore the importance of having an estate plan, either because they feel it is not necessary or because they feel there is still a lot of time. Whatever the case, it is still importance to create an estate plan that will ensure the protection of your valued assets before and after your death.

You Determine Where Your Assets Go

When you are married with children, it is easy to solve the puzzle of who controls your assets even if that must be settled in court. However, if you fail to create an estate plan, you would be allowing the government to decide what to do with your assets when you pass away. The state courts will determine what happens to your assets in this case dying intestate. Even if you may not have children, you may want to share some of your valued assets with a charitable organization, religious body, a local support group, a foundation you create to award deserving students with scholarships, and other incentives. This will only be possible when you create an estate plan.

Crucial Medical Decisions

In the event of a car accident or a sudden illness that leaves you in an unstable condition, unable to decide the best medical procedure you prefer, you would want someone that can stand in. If you have an immediate family member or children, this responsibility easily falls their way. However, in the absence of an immediate family and without any healthcare directives or information regarding your willingness to accept certain procedures such as donation of organs, specialists are required to carry out only the typical medical care to sustain life. This procedure may involve keeping you on life-saving machines which could massively affect your hard-earned assets. You can never tell tomorrow’s possibilities, so it is important to create an estate plan as it can prevent a catastrophic situation in future.

Choosing a Professional

Although it is possible to create an estate plan without the help of a legal source, it might be ideal and in your best interest to work with an estate planning attorney to ensure the security and legality of the document and to avoid any issues in future. Even if you do not have children, an estate plan is an invaluable asset to make sure your desires are known.

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.


Risks of Not Having an Estate Plan

Don’t have an estate plan for your estate? Are you under the impression that such plans only exist for those with large estates that are well off? If this is your assumption it is false and holds no merit. In fact, an estate plan is the best thing you can do, no matter how large or small your estate is, to ensure the safety of your property, and the well-being of your loved ones. An estate plan is the best way to protect your assets from probate laws. In fact, not having an estate plan subjects your property to several risks and hazards. The following are a few harmful risks of not having an estate plan:

Asset Distribution

The main aspect of a will, trust, or an estate plan is asset distribution. With your estate plan you can tell your family and the law just how you want your property to be divided. If you do not declare the method in which your property is supposed to be divided, the court simply passes on the property to your closest relatives, spouse, and children respectively. This can lead to a number of conflicts arising amongst your family, especially if you have been married more than once or if you are divorced. Thus, to ensure that your assets are properly distributed you need to make an estate plan.

End-of-Life Care

An estate plan is not just concerned with property and asset distribution, it can be utilized for dictating your healthcare during your final days or during illnesses. Often, many people are incapacitated by illnesses in their final days and cannot properly make their opinions and demands heard. Using an estate plan, those affected by illnesses such as Alzheimer’s can dictate their family and friends and let them know their wishes through power of attorney. An estate plan ensures that you are not helpless and that you dictate your life even at the very end.

Challenges caused by probate laws

Probate laws deal with the changing ownership of property and every single dealing that goes into the changing of owners. Without an estate plan, the probate courts will seize your property and subject them to probate laws while your heirs helplessly look on. With an estate plan you will be able to give a proper outline or blueprint about how your property is supposed to be handled. Wills and estate plans might not exempt your assets from estate laws but forming trusts can. The execution of a trust as part of an estate plan is a huge step in ensuring your heirs get what you want them to.

Don’t have an estate plan yet? If not, you should get one as quickly as possible. We never know where life might lead us, and it is better to be prepared for adverse occurrences beforehand. Create your estate plan immediately to make sure that your assets are handled the way you want them to. An estate plan helps you dictate your own life right to the very 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.


Avoid these Costly Mistakes by Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney

In order to pass your estate along to your deserving heirs it is important that you choose a family law attorney to help you draw up an estate plan to avoid extra taxes and probate when you do pass.  An experienced and trusted estate planning lawyer will help to ensure that your assets are distributed properly upon your passing.  They will also be an important part of putting in place a medical power or attorney, POW, just in case you become unable to make decisions regarding your care before your passing.

The process of finding an attorney that is qualified to help you can bequite daunting.  It is however impertitive to the success of transferring your assets upon your passing.  The right attorney will not let you make the mistakes that many people commonly make when creating an estate plan.  There are serious blunders that can be made that should be avoided to create an easy transition of estate upon your passing or if you should become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself.

Avert Common Misconceptions

Many people think that hiring the services of an estate planning lawyer is only for the rich and affluent.  This however is so far from reality.  Proper preparations for distribution of properties is essential.  Everyone has assets of one kind or another be it real estate, investments, personal belongings,and more.   You do not have to be rich in order to own assets that you will want distributed to your family without the hassle and expense that can come from probate.

Regardless of your financial assets, it is beneficial to have an estate plan in place to distribute your assets.  Asset distribution can be more efficient using a professional lawyer.  An attorney can help reduce the taxes to ensure a smooth transition of these assets to your beneficiaries. The idea is to make sure that your properties are transferred according to your wishes and not determined by a court.

Initial Arrangements

When seeking an estate planning attorney, there are certain things you would want to ask first. Know what the service charges are and what are the best proceedings in place to be applied to reduce tax requirements. Also, check to see if there are any apparent problems with your wishes among the beneficiaries and how best to make these arrangements.

A will or trust may be needed to be updated after the initial draft of your estate plan. So, make sure that you understand about the process. Your lawyer should be provided as much information as possible, which will make it easier to prepare your estate plan. Discuss your bank account information, insurance, pension and retirement plans, debt list, etc. with the attorney during the process.

Seek Attorney References

The best way to look for an estate planning lawyer is to ask for references. Use the help of attorneys, financial advisors, or even the local bar association to find out about professionals near you. Look for advertisements that offer relevant information. A good resort can be to look up online and visit the websites of local attorneys in your area. Professional attorneys will have a proper website with adequate information regarding their service. You may even find testimonials of satisfied customers that have sought real estate planning of their properties.

The power of a good estate planning attorney will help plan your assets well for the time when it comes to distributing your properties among the beneficiaries. A specialist in the field will be the best choice for the job.

Benefits of Gifting Assets

One of the most prominent benefits of segregating your properties is to reduce estate taxes. Once these assets are distributed, they cease to hold against the value of the estate. Hence, taxes levied are comparatively much less. Another advantage is that a capable attorney will remove the hassles that your beneficiaries may have to bear related to paying taxes, litigation, and other additional expenses.

The biggest benefit however is the peace of mind that the asset owner gets by appointing an estate planning lawyer to handle the task of distribution. Knowing that your beneficiaries will not have to face tedious legal issues to claim their rights will be quite a relief.

By incorporating a proper will in place with the legal documents to specify the rightful heir to your property, you will be able to receive the opportunity to determine who acquires which of your assets. An estate planning attorney will help you greatly in the process so you can be rest assured that your belongings get distributed in the proper way as per your desire.

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.