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Oakland County MI Estate Planning Law Blog

Understanding your role as estate administrator

Estate planning is extremely important for Michigan residents. It helps to ensure that people have a plan for their assets in the event of their death. With the proper estate plan in place, people can help their families avoid unnecessary taxes and a long probate process. This can be immensely helpful following a person's passing.

However, estate planning is only one part of the process. Once a person dies, the estate administration process begins. This is the process of settling the person's estate including collecting any income and paying any debt. It also includes distributing assets and dealing with the probate court, if necessary.

What is a 'small estate' in Michigan?

Every Michigan resident is unique. People have their own interests, passions and fears. Similarly, every person's estate looks different when he or she passes away. While some estates are large and complicated, others may be much more straightforward.

It is important for Michigan families to understand how a family member's estate is qualified under Michigan probate laws, however, because under these laws, small estates are treated much differently than regular estates. When an estate qualifies as small, the distribution process is much simpler than if it is a regular estate. A regular estate, on the other hand, may take much more significant oversight from the probate court in order to be completed.

When can a patient advocate be designated in Michigan?

In Michigan, those who are seeking to have a patient advocate designated need to understand what the law says about this decision, and how it can be completed legally. If the proper rules are not followed, then it might be disallowed. A person who is 18-years-old or older and is deemed to be of sound mind when making the patient advocate designation can place another individual who is 18 or older to be in charge of various issues for the person making the designation. These include care, custody and treatment. The patient advocate will also have the right to donate parts of the person's body after death.

In order for this to be legal, it must meet the following criteria: it must be in writing; it must be signed; it must be witnessed; it has to be dated; the person naming the patient advocate must do so willingly; prior to it being put in place, the attending physician of the patient or the mental health professional who treats the patient, the facility where the patient is cared for, or the program that is providing care to the patient must place it into the record.

Actor dies without will leaving litigation

When people are young, they don't often think about the consequences of failing to have an estate plan. In fact, many people may not even think about their estate plans or find it necessary to create one. When people think about death, they often associate it with older individuals. Sadly, no one is immune from an untimely death. Therefore, even young adults need to consider their estate planning needs.

When people fail to estate plan properly before their deaths, there can be serious consequences for the person's family. If a Michigan resident dies without a will in place, for example, that person's estate will be subject to Michigan intestacy laws. This can result in an increase in estate taxes, and a person's assets being possibly distributed in an undesirable way.

Choosing a medical power of attorney

Residents in Michigan are getting older. With old age come multiple medical issues. Many people will need to seek the care of medical professionals at some point in their lifetimes. Some may be unable to make their own decisions when it comes to their medical needs. When people are unable to make their own medical decisions, they may need someone to do that for them. If a person has a medical power of attorney, this can be a lot easier.

A medical power of attorney holder can make decisions on someone else's behalf when that person is no longer able to make medical decisions on his or her own. This can be extremely helpful in cases where a person is no longer conscious or is otherwise incapacitated. However, it is important that the right person is allotted the medical power of attorney.

When should you challenge a will?

When a loved one dies, it can be very traumatic for the remaining family. People miss their family members and wish their deaths never had to occur. However, death is a fact of life, and we have to come to terms with this difficult time period. While it is often not the first priority, at some point relatives must deal with their deceased family member's will. People will find out how their loved ones planned to distribute the assets following their deaths. The information found in a will, however, can be difficult if the will has terms that people were not expecting.

When a will does not meet these expectations, many people may wonder whether not they should challenge the will. There are many situations where challenging a will is appropriate.

Use a trust to protect your family

An estate plan is important for every Michigan resident. However, how that estate plan looks will vary depending on the individual circumstances of each resident. Often, an estate plan includes a will along with other estate planning documents. These documents may help to explain how a person wants to distribute the person's assets following the person's death.

If an estate plan is not in place, a person's assets will be distributed according to state law. This may not be ideal for many reasons. One, it does not necessarily allow individuals to take advantage of tax breaks that may be available under other estate planning tools. Also, it does not allow individuals to expressly state their intentions on how they want their property to be distributed.

Dementia and competency in Michigan

As Americans age, Michigan residents need to be familiar with many of the diseases that can affect elderly individuals. While some of these diseases can be problems with the body, others can be problems of the mind. In some cases, individuals lose their ability to understand who they are, where they are and what they are doing.

This decline in thinking and memory abilities is often referred to as dementia. Dementia includes a variety of medical conditions that affect a person's cognitive, psychological and physical functioning. When a person suffers from dementia it can be difficult, if not impossible, for that individual to function normally. A person may need help in all areas of the person's life. This includes making legal and financial decisions.

Competency questioned in trust case

Michigan residents have a lot of flexibility when it comes to their estate plans. By taking advantage of the many different estate planning tools available, people can make the most of their assets. This can include the use of many types of trusts.

However, people may need to revise their estate plans over time. People may feel that their assets would be best protected by using a different estate planning tool or under the direction of a different person. Typically, people have the right to change their estate plans as they see fit. However, certain conditions must be met. In particular, people must be of sound mind and capable of understanding their decisions when changes are made. People must also be free of undue influence from another when changes are made.

What does long term care look like?

People in Michigan are getting older. Americans, in general, are starting to reach retirement age in much larger numbers. 'Baby Boomers' are more often finding themselves in need of long-term care. It is important to understand what long-term care looks like, and what it costs, in order to prepare yourself and your family for the realities ahead. Many people are finding themselves unable to stay in their homes on their own. Therefore, they rely on long-term care facilities or other help in order to live as normal a life as possible.

Long-term care planning is an important part of estate planning. People need to understand how their assets will be used as they grow older. If people do not anticipate long-term care, they may find they do not have enough assets to take care of themselves.

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