Aaron Hernandez died under a cloud of dishonor, committing suicide after one court convicted him of murder and leaving his estate in debt to the tune of at least $1 million. However, there is evidence that some of his final acts may have been to protect his 5-year-old daughter. As many Michigan parents use wills and trusts to establish a secure future for their children, it seems Hernandez may have attempted the same, although his motives are in question.
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.
A trust is one element a Michigan resident can include in an estate plan. A trust essentially owns the assets funded to it, and the person who creates a trust assigns a trustee to manage the assets according to instructions provided. When people consider adding a trust to their estate plans, it is often because they are looking for a way to avoid probate or reduce the tax burdens of the estate. However, there are a number of other benefits to this estate planning tool.
Jerry Lewis was known for many things. Generations of people in Michigan and across the world appreciated his brilliant comedy in movies and stand-up routines. Each year at summer's end, Lewis's telethon raised millions of dollars to find a cure for children afflicted with muscular dystrophy. While other children benefitted from Lewis's charitable acts, the comedian's own children did not. The wills and trusts of many celebrities have recently raised eyebrows, and Jerry Lewis may have done the same with his estate plan.
The mysterious and suspicious circumstances under which a man in another state died are at the heart of a family battle over the man's estate. The man's four daughters expected to inherit his $29 million estate after he was shot three times in his bed in Dec. 2013. Apparently, the man's grandson had been disputing the estate plan of the elderly man the night before the murder. While no charges have yet been filed, Michigan residents may be interested in how the case affects the wills and trusts in their own families.
Being a parent requires many important qualities. Parenting involves patience, selflessness, devotion and other strengths, many of which Michigan mothers and fathers learn along the way. However, the parents of two boys in another state are fighting for child custody because the Department of Human Services apparently believes they do not have IQs sufficient for raising children. Both parents have IQs in the 70s, below the average of 90 to 110.
People may put off estate planning for a number of reasons. Some in Michigan may think such a plan is unimportant, while others feel they don't have sufficient assets to make it worthwhile. For some, the thought of creating wills and trusts is overwhelming, and others may be unsure which option will work best for their situation.
It may be difficult to keep track of the number of times a person signs on the dotted line in his or her lifetime. Buying a house, renewing a driver's license, getting married or using a credit card all require a signature. In most cases, a person's soundness of mind is assumed as he or she signs. However, when it comes to estate planning documents like health care directives, powers of attorney, wills and trusts, there are definite guidelines in place for determining someone's mental clarity.
One year ago, music fans in Michigan and the rest of the world were shocked to learn of the death of Prince. While the tragedy of his drug overdose caused many to shake their heads, it is the condition of his estate that continues to make headlines a year later. Without considering wills and trusts to disperse his hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, Prince left a legal nightmare and a probate that is now in its 12th month.
Many people like to think that creating a last will or estate plan is a one-time effort. However, that is simply not true unless you wait until your death is imminent. The best way to approach your last will and estate plan is to handle it early in life and update it often.