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Plan For The Future With Wills And Trusts

Many people find it difficult to begin the estate planning process. Drafting a will or trust might make you uncomfortable because it is a reminder of mortality. However, estate planning is a very important step in life. Creating a will or trust allows you to take the future into your own hands and plan for the security of your spouse and children as well as protect your legacy.

The experienced lawyers of Gormley and Johnson Law Offices, PLC, are prepared to guide you through this process. We can help you create or update a will or trust. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation at our offices in Howell or Fowlerville, Michigan by calling 517-219-9301.

Every Adult Needs A Will

Over the course of a lifetime, we accumulate possessions that we want to pass on to our heirs. These items may include cash, real estate, stocks, bonds, jewelry, cars, art and many other things. A will is a legal document that allows you to designate to whom your possessions should be distributed upon your death. Properly executed and witnessed, a will can be created by any competent adult. After death, the will is probated in court to guarantee that your treasured belongings are disbursed according to Michigan law and your wishes.

Those who do not have proper wills die “intestate.” This means that Michigan law will designate who receives your belongings. In some cases, assets are even forfeited to the state of Michigan. A probate judge would appoint someone, called a “personal representative,” to distribute your belongings under the authority of the court. With a proper will, you are able to choose the personal representative whom you trust to distribute your assets, as well as who gets those assets.

In order to properly draft a will that accomplishes your goals, you need to seek advice of an experienced estate planning attorney, who is familiar with Michigan law.

At Gormley and Johnson Law Offices, PLC, we will work with you closely to put together an organized list of your assets and people or organizations you choose as beneficiaries. Upon death, your debts are settled first, and the remainders of your assets are distributed.

Making Updates To Your Will

If, after establishing your will, you want to make updates — perhaps because of a marriage or divorce, or upon the birth or death of an heir — we can help you make modifications. It is important to make sure your will is up-to-date. Some of the updates might be more obvious like when big milestones occur, but there are also reasons that may not be as obvious, so it is important to review your estate on a regular basis to make sure everything is planned for correctly.

Some more-obvious reasons for updating a will can be for addition or deletion of a beneficiary. Marriage and the birth of a baby both present new loved ones who you probably want to include in your will. While state laws may dictate that some assets go to your spouse or children upon death, a will outlines exactly how you want to distribute things. Divorce also presents an opportunity to update your will, as you probably do not want your ex to be a beneficiary. If a beneficiary passes before you do, you will need to make new arrangements as to where property and assets go.

Some situations may not be as obvious that constitute reviewing your will. One is if you move to a different state, as each one has its own estate planning requirements. Meet with an estate attorney before you retire, as taking distributions may change what a beneficiary receives. Finally, even if there is no major life change or disruption, you should review your estate every five years or so to make sure it is still what you want and to make changes if necessary.

It’s important your will is stored in a safe location where those you trust can access it when the time comes. As our client, we can keep a copy of your will on hand at our Fowlerville office.

Avoid Probate And Protect Loved Ones With A Trust

Unlike a will, a trust allows for the transfer of your assets in a manner of your choosing without the probate process. They can be structured in a variety of ways, and according to a variety of benchmarks-be they the age of the recipient or how the money should be spent.

Trusts offer several benefits:

  • They’re exempt from creditors.
  • It’s separate from the marital pool, so it won’t be in play in the event of a divorce
  • They can be set up to your specifications. For example, you can even create an IRA trust.

Trusts can be drafted to:

  • Provide for the future care of a spouse or children
  • Provide for continuation of a business
  • Prevent creditors from seizing assets passed from an heir by inclusion of a spendthrift provision
  • Pass down assets in very specific ways; for example, you might wish to prevent a young heir from the challenges of a financial windfall by distributing assets to this person over time
  • Minimize certain tax consequences

Trusts can be irrevocable or revocable. Revocable trusts can be amended during your life. We are available to discuss your specific needs during an initial legal consultation.

Call Now To Request A Complimentary Legal Consultation

To discuss your estate planning needs with an experienced attorney, contact Gormley and Johnson Law Offices, PLC, at 517-219-9301, or send us an email. We offer free, no-obligation initial consultations to prospective clients throughout the area, including the communities of Brighton, Lansing and East Lansing.