For the convenience of our clients, we also offer the options to meet via video conference or by telephone

Helping People Move
Forward With Their Lives
  1. Home
  2.  » Estate Planning and Probate

Turn To An Estate Planning And Probate Attorney Who Can Help

Planning for the security of your spouse and children after you’re gone is a sign of your love and concern. Too many people get caught up in the idea that an estate plan is only for the obscenely wealthy, those who have multiple homes and millions of assets that they need to protect. The reality is, anyone with assets can benefit from developing an estate plan. When you prepare a will or a trust, when you communicate your wishes about medical treatment and end-of-life care, you spare your family from difficult decisions during stressful times.

Whether you have a 401(k), a home, or even just a simple savings account, you should be thinking about how your assets will be distributed should an unexpected tragedy occur. To make sure your assets don’t get tied up in legal proceedings that can take years to resolve and lead to bitterness and resentment, turn to the estate planning lawyer at Gormley Law Offices, PLC, to begin the process of preparing your estate plan or administering an estate through probate. With offices in Howell and Fowlerville, we serve clients in Brighton, East Lansing, Lansing and across Michigan. When you contact us, we can walk you through the process and prepare complete, accurate paperwork, including:

Whatever steps are taken, it should be noted that it’s imperative to stay on top of your estate plan. Keep your will up-to-date, make sure your beneficiaries are chosen carefully and don’t let major life events go unaddressed if they relate to your estate plan.

Reasons To Have A Current And Updated Estate Plan

Making sure your wealth is protected in case of an accident or other tragic event is still key. Most people should still be careful and mindful of how their wealth will be distributed after their passing. Without a current estate plan, your loved ones can become embroiled in long and contentious processes to inherit your property.

The new laws are a good reason to check in and make sure your plan is up-to-date. It also provides an opportunity to simplify it if possible. Even though the new law will sunset in 2025, you can still explore what options are available to you now.

What Estate Planning Documents Do I Need?

Depending upon your family’s financial situation, here are the primary strategies and the documents you need.

Will-Based Estate Planning Documents

If you do not require a revocable living trust, a foundational plan includes these five items:

  • Last will and testament
  • Living will
  • Financial power of attorney
  • Advance health care directive
  • Funeral directive

Trust-Based Documents

If you need a more sophisticated and private estate plan, it’s crucial to have these eight documents:

  • Revocable living trust
  • Pour-over will
  • Financial power of attorney
  • Living will
  • Advance health care directive
  • Funeral directive
  • Assignment of personal property to trust
  • Deed of real properties to trust

Defining These Crucial Estate Planning Documents

While our experienced estate planning attorney will fully inform you about these elements, here is a brief description of each:

  • Revocable living trust: This document contains detailed instructions to cover three crucial periods of your life. These include how your assets will be managed while you are alive and well, what happens if you become too ill or injured to manage your affairs and what happens after you die.
  • Last will and testament: For will-based planning, this is a detailed list of how your property should be distributed after your death. It also designates a guardian for minor children.
  • Pour-over will: For trust-based planning, this document contains minimal instructions and is meant to serve only as a safety net to include assets that were not transferred to your trust before death.
  • Living will: This vital document provides instructions for your doctor and other caregivers on whether you want life-saving measures taken if you have a terminal disease or suffer life-threatening injuries.
  • Advance health care directive: Also known as the medical power of attorney, this document designates the person you want to make medical decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so yourself.
  • Financial power of attorney: Just as an advance health care directive allows someone to make medical decisions for you, this document allows the person of your choosing to make financial decisions.
  • Funeral directive: This document allows you to designate a person as your funeral representative. This person has the power to choose funeral arrangements and the handling, disposition or disinterment of your body. Simply including information about your funeral wishes is generally not sufficient under Michigan law.
  • Assignment of personal property:  This document allows you to assign in a blanket fashion all of your personal property to your trust.
  • Deed: This allows you to deed all of your real property to your trust. The type of deed used depends on the situation: quit claim, warranty and/or lady bird. You also have a transfer affidavit that is prepared with each deed and filed with the municipality where the property is located.

What Is Probate And How Can An Estate Planning And Probate Lawyer Help?

After a loved one dies in Michigan, his or her estate goes into probate. Probate is the legal process involving the administration of a person’s estate after the person dies and recognizing the validity of a will and distributing the property according to the wishes of the deceased. If there is not a will, this process can help with ensuring assets are properly distributed and any other issues are cleared up. Some cases can be simple; others are quite complex.

Probate involves opening a court case and appointing a personal representative to administer the payment of creditors, decide issues, and distribute property to heirs or beneficiaries of the deceased person. This can be a complicated process that many people are completely unprepared for when confronted with these situations. While Michigan law is utilized in all probate courts statewide, the exact process can differ depending on the court or the judge assigned to the case when it is opened. Judges’ procedures vary from county to county.

How Long Does Probate Usually Take In Michigan?

In most cases, probate is not a long process. As long as there is nobody contesting the will and it can easily be deemed valid, the court is minimally involved. Sometimes the process is streamlined for simple estates so it moves along very fast. It may not even be required for an estate to go through probate. For example, if your husband dies and leaves everything to you, then probate may not be required because state law already says that you get all assets of your husband’s.

Regardless, if your loved one’s estate goes to probate, there is usually little to worry about it. The process will probably go smoothly with little issue. It will not drag on in most cases. The only time there is concern about that is when someone contests the will, which is a difficult process on its own, or if the estate is large and complex.

Our experienced estate planning and probate attorney is prepared to guide you through the probate process as expediently and effectively as possible.

Don’t Wait. Schedule A Complimentary Legal Consultation Today

Call Gormley Law Offices, PLC, at 517-219-9301 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation about estate planning or probate today. You may also begin the process by sending us this form.