At Thacker Sleight, we are family law lawyers, negotiators, litigators, and problem solvers. We have a reputation of being fearless, meticulous, and thorough in our approach of life’s unexpected challenges. We never stop, it’s how we work, and why we get results.
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Creating a clear life plan is a critical part of managing your assets, protecting your family, and providing a clear directive for your family in the event of a health issue. It’s quite surprising, then, that nearly six out of 10 Americans are unprepared for the inevitable and only 36% of parents with minor children have a plan for them in place.
It can be unpleasant to think about illness or death, but it is important to have an estate plan in place that will take care of your loved ones in such an emergency. Regardless of your age, wealth, or profession, planning for what happens if you become ill or when you pass away ensures that your money goes to the people or causes you care about most. At Thacker Sleight, we will help you build a will or trust that will transfer financial support to your loved ones, save them the emotional stress of making your end-of-life decisions, and align with your wishes for your property after you’re gone.
Schedule an appointment with Thacker Sleight today to start drafting your estate plan.
What Is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan in its simplest form consists of legal documents that define your desires for your financial assets and medical care at the end of your life.
Some of the most common estate planning tools are:
It is important to have an estate plan because it can establish important instructions for numerous things in the event that you are no longer able to communicate these wishes due to illness or death. Additionally, in the divorce context, many do not realize that failing to have an estate plan might put their ex-spouse in charge of their assets. A will or trust might better direct the appropriate assets and funds into the right hands.
Wills vs. Trusts
Wills are one of the most basic estate planning tools that everyone should have.
A "last will and testament" is a legal document that allows you to specify instructions for:
- How you want to distribute your property after your death
- Naming an executor to carry out the terms of your will
- Naming guardians for any minor children and the property you leave them
- Deciding how your remaining debts and taxes will be paid
- Specifying charitable donations
Alongside a will, you may also want to create a trust, which allows you to grant a “trustee” the right to hold title to property and assets for a beneficiary (or beneficiaries). Trusts serve to safeguard your assets to ensure they will later be distributed according to your specified wishes.
While both trusts and wills hold property to be passed down, trusts do not need to go through the probate process, while wills do. With trusts, all the property listed will be automatically transferred to the beneficiaries upon your death. With wills, your document must pass through probate court before any transfers of property are made.
You cannot have a trust without a will, however. Trusts are a good option to have to save your loved ones time and money by helping them avoid a lengthy probate process, but there are certain things only a will can do, such as list guardians for minor children. As a result, it is a good idea to work with a professional to devise both a will and a trust so that all your bases are covered.
What Is a Medical Directive?
An estate planning tool that will address your healthcare concerns is the medical directive.
Michigan offers two kinds of advance directives for determining medical end-of-life matters:
- Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (DPOA-HC)
- Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) Declaration
You can sign the above legal documents to specify your intent or wishes regarding medical treatment choices. In essence, a medical directive has you articulate end-of-life treatment options, which will be used to determine medical decisions in the chance you become unable to speak for yourself.
When you are drafting documents as important as wills, trusts, and advance directives, it is critical to work with an experienced professional. Our estate planning attorneys in Grand Rapids can make sure that the language in your document meets your needs and interests accurately as you’ve intended. It is never too early to start on your end-of-life plans, as doing so can give you peace of mind that your affairs will be in order. Whether you have questions about planning for your future financially or medically, Thacker Sleight can help.
Schedule an initial consultation with our firm today to get started on your will, trust, and advance directive.