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Estate Planning 101

Commonly Used Estate Planning Terms

Please note that we have listed a generalized definition for your reference. If you have specific questions about these terms, feel free to ask us!

Attorney in Fact – the individual who, acting on your behalf, handles your financial and/or medical affairs under a legal document called a Power of Attorney or Advance

Healthcare Directive – a document that names a Patient Advocate to make healthcare decisions for a patient, when the patient is unable to participate in medical treatment decisions

Beneficiary – the person who is entitled to benefits under a Will, a Trust, or other document that designates a beneficiary

Estate – you and your stuff

Estate Planning – the design that immortalizes your goals for the protection and preservation of your estate

Executor of the Will – the person who, under the supervision of the probate court, carries out your wishes as outlined in your Will

Probate – a legal process that ensures once you die, your debts are paid and your assets are distributed according to your Will under the guidance of the probate court

Settlor – the person who establishes a trust (also referred to as a Trustor or Grantor)

Successor Trustee – the person appointed to administer the Trust after the initial trustee dies or is incapacitated

Trust Administration – the process of carrying out the terms of the Trust in accordance with the provisions of the Trust and federal and state law

Trustee – the person who administers the Trust to best carry out the purpose and directions of the Trust

Trust – a legal document that contains instructions for handling your affairs during your lifetime or incapacity and distributes your estate upon your death

Will – a prepared legal document that specifies who is to receive your financial resources after your death. If you have minor children, a Will also designates the people who will be responsible for the care of your minor children after your death

The Benefits of Estate Planning

Planning for your estate is a smart idea; if you do not make a plan for what will happen to your estate – another word for your assets and property – then the future of your estate will be uncertain. While Michigan law will still allow your estate to go to your closest relatives, who gets what will be out of your control.

In addition to making it clear how your assets will be distributed upon your death, estate planning also allows you to ensure that your loved ones are provided for, including a spouse, minor children, grandchildren, or disabled family members. An estate plan can also minimize the stress experienced by family members when you die, and avoid the tedious probate process. An estate plan that is well-devised can also minimize tax liabilities, too.

All individuals who own assets should consider an estate plan; for those with significant wealth, an estate plan is a necessity.

Our Estate Planning Attorneys are Ready to Serve You!

Do not put your future at risk; if you do not have an estate plan already, the time to create one is now. We can help – contact us today!

(616) 361-8400

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