An educational approach to help you plan for your loved ones.
Estate Planning is preparing for what happens next.
Estate planning is simply scheduling meetings to create legally binding documents that designate trusted individuals to act on your behalf due to disability, incapacity, and death (or possibly missing on a tropical island after a three-hour tour).
The various roles include a person to act as your personal representative (also known as executor), guardian and conservator for minor children, and agents with authority to help manage finances and medical decisions. Estate planning provides peace of mind with our educational approach to help you timely and economically resolve legal matters without trips to probate court (or limited court involvement during critical life events).
Innovative Law Services will help you evaluate the best legal options for estate planning with an initial consultation at no charge. Each family's situation is unique, and we will help customize the necessary documents to fit your specific needs. Please contact us below to schedule a meeting to learn more about Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Patient Advocate Designation, and other estate planning options.
When to update your estate plan:
Death of loved ones
Incapacity of your spouse or loved ones
Becoming a parent or grandparent
Recently came into good fortune
Purchased real estate in Michigan
A foreseeable need to move to a nursing home
Your children have grown up
Regular revisions to accommodate life changes and law updates
When you have a desired change
Cottage law planning for vacation home
Change of marital status
Family relationship changes
Pet trust planning
Checking off your bucket list (i.e. swimming with the sharks or skydiving)
Asset protection (no matter how big or small)
Designating the ages and conditions for family to inherit funds (i.e. must earn degree)
New business succession planning
Estate Planning Reference Guide
Estate planning involves educated decisions along with designating friends, family or professional fiduciary advisers to help manage personal matters. The selected individuals should be trustworthy and willing to help advocate for your needs and wishes. Each estate planning document provides a list of powers and limitations based on personal preferences. It is important to discuss these roles with the person you intend to select to verify they are willing to serve.
You may name two or more individuals to act jointly that would help create a check and balance, however, if there are any disagreements then a trip to court may be required to resolve any disputes. Please review the below information to help select a primary person and at least one alternate person for each role. Naming an alternate person to assist is strongly recommended just in case the primary person is unavailable or unable to assist.
General Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney transfers legal authority to another individual to act on your behalf to help manage your finances and other daily responsibilities. The power of attorney may include limited duties such as a real estate transaction or an extensive list of broad powers. The power of attorney is also known as an attorney-in-fact or agent. You are known as the principal. A power of attorney is not filed with court and terminates upon death. You may revoke the power of attorney at any time (while of sound mind). A Durable Power Of Attorney should eliminate the need for the probate court to appoint a conservator to manage financial affairs if a person becomes incapacitated.
Why: Manage financials when necessary
Example: Coma, accident or illness
Patient Advocate Designation
A Patient Advocate Designation allows a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated due to illness, surgery, injury or mental disability. It is also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. Select at least one Patient Advocate (an adult) that you trust to respect your wishes and is capable of making difficult decisions even if different from the opinion of your family members or medical providers.
Why: Decisions for medical care
Example: Become ill, stroke, or life support
A personal representative is designated within a Last Will & Testament to help settle an estate that requires probate court. This role was previously known as an executor. The court may appoint a legal representative when necessary. The duties include collecting assets, preparing an inventory, paying debts, expenses, claims, selling assets, distributing property and funds to beneficiaries. A complex estate that involves business interests should consider using a professional fiduciary. Probate court is required for approval of a nominated guardian & conservator for an incapacitated adult and with cases involving minor children.
Why: Probate Court required
Trust & Trustees
A revocable trust is a legal agreement to privately manage and transfer assets to beneficiaries during lifetime and after death. The person(s) that create the trust agreement is known as a settlor, initial trustee and grantor. A trust is very beneficial for more complex estate planning goals including asset protection from creditors. A trust is privately managed compared to a will that must be submitted to probate court for judicial approval to resolve an estate. After the initial trustee’s incapacity or death, a successor trustee would take over to manage the trust assets. It may be helpful to select the same person as power of attorney and successor trustee.
For case with a minor child: Trust planning includes health, education, and support distributions until a child is of sufficient age to receive direct distributions. Without a trust, a minor child would typically receive inheritance funds at the age of eighteen.
Business owners or self-employed trustees should consider naming a co-trustee that is knowledgeable with the business. It is important to remember that a successor trustee may continue for many years based on the timing of distributions to each beneficiary.
Timing: Life if disabled or incapacitated and provides specific instructions upon death without the need for probate court
Why: To privately manage trust assets based on specific directions over a period of time
Estate Planning Terms:
General Power of Attorney. Power of attorney documents authorize a trusted person to act on your behalf to help manage your finances and other daily responsibilities. A person designated as your agent for the power of attorney role is also known as your attorney-in-fact. A power of attorney may include limited duties such as selling property or an extensive broad list of powers to manage all areas when you need it most such as illness, travel or incapacity. It may be effective upon execution (once signed) or a springing power of attorney (after determined to be incapacitated by one or more physicians. The power of attorney documents must be signed while of sound mind. A durable power of attorney may eliminate the need for a court-appointed conservator to manage financial affairs due to incapacity. A power of attorney is not filed with the court and terminates upon death.
Patient Advocate Designation. A Patient Advocate Designation provides authority for a trusted friend or family member to make medical decisions on behalf of another person due to incapacity, injury, or mental disability. It is also known as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care or an Advanced Directive. It is helpful to select a person that will respect your wishes and make difficult decisions even if different from personal opinions or the opinion of family members.
Personal Representative. A personal representative is typically named in a will to help settle an estate that requires probate court. This role was previously known as an executor. The extensive duties include collecting and securing assets, managing property, preparing an inventory, paying debts, determining creditors, attending court hearings, filing taxes, settling claims, selling assets, distributing property and funds to beneficiaries.
Will & Last Testament. A will is a document that must be submitted to the probate court by law, see MCL 700.2516. The Will provides a set of instructions that must be approved by the probate court. In comparison, a Trust Agreement is a private document that is not filed with the probate court unless an interested person files a case (i.e. disputing terms of the trust).
Trust & Trustee. A trust is a legal agreement to privately transfer assets to beneficiaries and avoids or minimize the probate court process. A trust agreement may be beneficial when you have minor children, prefer a long term arrangement with asset protection from creditors, or prefer to customize how funds are distributed to various beneficiaries. The person that creates the trust is known as the settlor, initial trustee, and grantor. After the initial trustee's disability or death, a successor trustee takes over to manage the trust agreement provisions. It may be helpful to select the same person as power of attorney and successor trustee to transfer the role during lifetime to after death.
Requirements and Recommendations for Choosing a Patient Advocate:
A family member or friend (must be over 18 years old)
Understands your preferences and willing to make difficult decisions
Resides close to you (or lives in same state)
Able to question medical decisions with doctors, nurses and social workers
Advocates for best treatment options, medications, and tests
Other helpful estate planning documents:
Funeral Representative Designation
Durable Power of Attorney Delegating Parental Authority
Business Succession Planning
Cottage Law & Cabin Operating Agreements
Managing Health Care Choices
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Authorization (HIPAA)
Ladybird Deeds or Life Estate Deeds - great tool for transferring real estate after death while maintaining control of the property during life
Property Transfer Affidavits
Certificate of Trust
Distribution of Tangible Personal Property
Power of Appointment
Authorization for Anatomical Gift
Acceptance of Agent Designation
Transfer on Death Designation
Please use the form below to contact us for more information or please call 248-587-7888 to schedule a consultation.
For payment methods, we accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express along with check and cash.