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Estate Planning

A typical estate plan could include the following documents:

Last Will and Testament


A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your assets and property after your death. It can also designate guardians for minor children and appoint a personal representative/executor to manage the distribution of your estate. Without a will, your assets will be distributed according to state law, which may not align with your wishes. 

In both scenarios, the administration of the estate is subject to the local county probate court's jurisdiction, and is a matter of public record. In order to avoid probate court, consider making a trust. 

 

Trust Agreement

 

A trust is a legal entity that holds assets on behalf of a beneficiary. There are several types of trusts, including revocable and irrevocable trusts. A revocable trust allows you to change the terms or terminate the trust at any time, while an irrevocable trust cannot be modified or terminated once it is established.

 

Trusts can be useful for asset protection, tax planning, and avoiding probate court.

If you are interested in a trust and own real estate, please visit the "Deeds" section below to learn more about transferring your home to your trust. A deed can also be utilized if you do not want a trust, and want to add people to title or name beneficiaries upon your death.

 

Powers of Attorney

Estate planning is not just about what happens after you die. It is also important to plan for the possibility of incapacity due to illness or injury.

 

Durable powers of attorney for finances allow you to appoint someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so.

Healthcare powers of attorney allow you to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to communicate your wishes. 

Updating your estate plan

It is important to review and update your estate plan regularly, especially after significant life events such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child.

Deeds

A legal document which conveys the title of real estate from one person or entity to another. The deed outlines the parties involved, including the seller(s) and buyer(s), and includes all the pertinent details about the transfer: the precise description of the property being sold; any liens, easements, or encumbrances; and the seller's signature for authentication. 

Warranty deed: a deed in which the seller guarantees that she/he/they hold(s) clear title to a piece of real property, has the right to sell it., and promises to defend the title against any legal claims.

Quitclaim deed: a deed which transfers the seller's interest in real property without the guarantee the property title is in the clear.

Ladybird deed: (Michigan only) a warranty deed or quitclaim deed which allows individual(s) to keep ownership of the real property and retain the right to use the property for her/his/their lifetime(s). After death, title to the property automatically transfers to the named beneficiaries without going through probate.

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