Documenting Your Wishes

Who Needs Estate Planning?

The answer is anyone who owns a house, a savings account or who any assets at all and wishes to pass on these assets to their family and loved ones. Estate planning is not only for those with accumulated wealth. Middle-class families and those families with assets, prized family items or collections benefit from estate planning. Not planning creates a great stress and burden on your family down the road.

Why Create A Plan Now?

When someone dies without a will it is called "intestate." What happens is that all of that person's property and cash are then divided up according to state law. This distribution is based on how and to whom the state decides is the most reasonable way to divide them. But this may not be at all what you intended. You may not wish for an equal distribution of your property and you may have specific intentions and ideas as to how and to whom your assets and property go. You have worked hard for your assets, why should anyone but you decide how to divide them? Estate planning ensures your wishes are documented and that a valid plan for "who gets what" is created.

Estate Planning And Health Care Wishes

Estate planning involves not only property and "who gets what" but health care wishes as well. By putting down in writing your wishes for your end-of-life care, your family is relieved of the burden of trying to figure out what is best and what you may or may not want. An estate plan can include money and details for funeral and burial or cremation arrangements as well.

Families With Minor Children

Families with minor children should create a trust to ensure that their children are properly cared for by a trusted friend or family member instead of leaving this decision up to the state. Parents do not want to let the state decide who should raise their children. An estate plan can arrange for the appointment of a personal guardian of your choosing for minor children. The plan can also retain the funds of your estate to ensure that your children are taken care of. An estate plan ensures that our most important family assets — our children — have a plan and are provided for.

By creating an estate plan you create a legacy. Estate plans can include letters of intent, which clarify your wishes not only for the distribution of your things, but also what you hope for in the lives of your spouse, family members and children. Creating an estate plan passes down a legacy.

What Is An "Estate?"

Your estate is everything you own. This includes:

  • Your home
  • Your car, boat, motorcycle
  • Land
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks and other securities
  • Life insurance
  • Businesses

What Does An Estate Plan Do?

A carefully crafted plan includes a will and can include a living will, trusts and durable power of attorney. An estate plan created by a qualified estate planning attorney ensures that:

  • Your property and money will go to the people you want them to go to.
  • All taxes will be paid.
  • Probate is avoided.
  • The type of medical care you wish to receive is made clear.
  • Your desired funeral arrangements are detailed and payment arranged for.
  • Your children will avoid having to go through the court
  • Your family is properly cared for so that you can be at ease.

Simply putting a family member's name on the deed of your house is not sufficient protection. For example, if that family member is later sued, the house becomes a vulnerable asset that can be taken. When a person dies the will must be proved by the state. This process is known as the "proving of a will" and it can be expensive. Careful and considered planning that includes trusts can ensure that your wishes are carried out and your property is not distributed by the state, but by your exact wishes as stated in the plan you created.

Plan To Leave A Legacy

The time to plan is now. Don't wait for a crisis to make the big decisions. Boroja, Bernier & Associates PLLC, can assist you through whatever your estate planning needs. Call us at 586-799-3598 and speak with a lawyer. Or fill out this online contact form. Serving metro Detroit, Macomb County and southeast Michigan. We charge a flat fee.