Estate Planning Attorney
At Atlas Law, PLC, our estate planning attorney is ready to assist you in developing an estate plan tailored to your specific needs. Whether you need a will or a trust, or you have a simple or complex estate, we have the resources to design a plan that caters to your needs. Our goal is to create a strong legal foundation for you to protect yourself and your family from all of life’s surprises.
Although planning for the future is one of the most important things you can do, knowing which direction to take is not always easy. The attorney at Atlas Law, PLC can provide you with the individualized attention and in-depth instruction you need.
Our estate planning lawyer can help you design an estate plan to preserve and protect your assets, as well as your personal wishes, before a crisis occurs. We can assist you with the preparation of a last will and testament, revocable trust, irrevocable trust, special needs trust, lady bird deed, living will, testamentary trust, or medical power of attorney. We’ll review your financial situation, listen to your planning goals, answer your questions, and return your phone calls. With proper estate and financial planning we can help you avoid probate court, inheritance tax, and estate tax.
Our experienced estate planning attorney understands that you, and your needs, are unique. Our goal is to listen to what your estate planning concerns and goals are for the future. We care about what is important to you as you begin this journey. Our focus is on you, your priorities, and your objectives.
What Is An Estate Plan?
What is Estate Planning? Estate planning can be defined as a list of instructions to guide your loved ones as to how to manage your affairs if you are gone, or simply unable to manage them yourself. A properly drafted estate plan allows you to protect your property, your loved ones and yourself. Estate planning is a term that has changed dramatically over the years. At one time, estate planning meant having a will that would go through probate and, if a person was married, titling property jointly with a spouse.
Changes in the laws and changing views of finance, lifestyle, privacy, nontraditional families, and longevity of life have made estate planning far more interesting and, frankly, more compelling for a larger group of people than ever before. For these and many other reasons, estate planning is no longer will planning or tax planning only for the wealthy. Today, estate planning is financial, retirement, business succession, charitable, medical, disability, legacy, and gift planning.
Do you Need An Estate Plan
Do You Have Minor Children?
If so, you need an estate plan. An estate plan allows you to appoint a guardian to care for your children’s welfare if you are unable to do so yourself. You can also create a trust to provide for them financially while they are minors.
Do You Not Have Minor Children?
If not, you need an estate plan. For most people, their children are their heirs. If you do not have children and have not done any estate planning, then your estate may go to some accidental heirs. Drafting an estate plan will prevent your estate from going to unintended or undesirable persons. Additionally, children are often who most people rely on to help with our medical and financial decisions as we age. Not having children creates a vacuum, of sorts, whereby there is no one available or even permitted to help you with important decisions. An estate plan allows you to appoint a financial power of attorney and medical power of attorney to help you with such decisions.
So You Want to Control Your Own Medical Decisions?
If so, you should create an estate plan. As we age, some of us may become incapacitated and unable to make decisions regarding our own medical care. Preparing a living will and patient advocate will allow you to communicate your wishes regarding healthcare to your loved ones; ensuring your wishes are known and followed.
Do You Own a Home?
If yes, you need an estate plan. Our home is often our biggest investment. Without proper planning, your home could end up in the court system should tragedy ever strike. An estate plan can prevent your biggest asset from being tied up in court. Using a revocable trust or simple lady bird deed can save your heirs thousands of dollars in legal fees and court costs.
Do You Have a Business?
If so, you know the tremendous sacrifices required to ensure your business is a success. Without proper planning your business could be left without a leader. Most businesses cannot survive the chaos that follows a lack of leadership. An estate plan allows you to appoint a decision-maker to ensure your business continues to thrive if you are unavailable.
Do You Have a Blended Family, or Children From a Prior Relationship?
If so, you need an estate plan. An estate plan is particularly important if you have children from different marriages. Without an estate plan, your estate will be distributed under the default rules when you pass. These rules are called the laws of intestacy. Depending on your state, the laws of intestacy will give most—if not all—of your wealth to your new spouse. This alone may not be a bad proposition. But remember, when your new spouse passes, his or her estate–including assets inherited from you–will go to your spouse’s heirs, leaving your children empty handed. Preparing an estate plan can prevent your children from being left in the cold.
Do You Want to Make Things Easier for Your Loved Ones?
Creating an estate plan allows for an orderly and efficient transfer of your wealth to your heirs. Without an estate plan, your heirs will likely have to spend unnecessary time, money, and energy in probate court trying to claim what is rightfully theirs.
Do You Want to Control Your Money After You Pass?
Do you have an heir who is irresponsible with money, or who is perhaps suffering from addiction? An estate plan allows you to leave specific instructions as to how an heir will receive their inheritance. Monthly or yearly installments? Upon the completion of a goal? An estate plan provides an opportunity to put a plan in place to address your specific needs. This can be instrumental in protecting a child or other loved one from themselves.
Do You Have a Child That is Special Needs?
If so, you need an estate plan. Specifically, you likely need a special needs trust. A special needs trust is a tool designed to hold assets for a person who suffers from a physical or mental disability. Special needs trusts are used to pass wealth to a disabled person without interfering with his or her Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, vocational rehabilitation, and subsidized housing. Without a special needs trust, your special needs child or heir could lose their entire inheritance.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need an estate plan!
Typical Estate Planning Documents
Revocable Living Trust
A revocable living trust is a device used by attorneys to protect and organize your assets. Revocable living trusts are usually recommended by estate planning attorneys because they can help you avoid probate, which is notoriously expensive. However, they offer a number of advantages over other estate planning tools besides avoiding probate. A trust, along with a last will and testament, is one of the two documents typically used to distribute your estate.
Last Will and Testament
A will, last will and testament, or “last will,” is a legal document which allows a person, to make decisions on how their probate estate will be managed and distributed after their death. A will has no effect until one passes away. As such, it generally does not offer any protection for your assets while you are living. A will is also typically where a parent would elect a guardian for a minor child to serve in their absence. A will, by itself, does not avoid probate.
A living will is a written expression of your wishes regarding end-of-life care which is provided to your family and doctors. It takes effect after you are diagnosed by a doctor as terminally ill or permanently unconscious and the doctor determines you are unable to make or communicate decisions about your care. A living will is part of a complete estate plan. Living wills play a crucial role in fulfilling your wishes regarding your end-of-life care. The State of Michigan does provide free advanced healthcare directives.
Medical Power of Attorney
In Michigan, a medical power of attorney is referred to as a health care surrogate. A medical power of attorney is a type of advanced directive. It is a legal document used by you to designate another person to make decisions regarding your health care, including your funeral and other arrangements. Your medical power of attorney works hand-in-hand with your other advanced directives.
Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney, is a legal document that you put in place to allow another person to manage your financial affairs should it become necessary. Incapacity can arise from a number of different causes. Sudden illness, injury, an accident, and advanced age can all lead to incapacity. A financial power of attorney must be executed while you have the capacity to do so.
Lady Bird Deed
A Lady Bird Deed is a simple and inexpensive tool used to pass real property, such as your home, to your heirs upon your death. It helps avoid probate. Meaning, your real property passes to your named heirs automatically—without court involvement. Lady Bird Deeds are very common in Michigan and have a number of other notable benefits.
Special Needs Trust
Special needs trusts are a type of trust designed to manage assets for a disabled person. Typically, the trust holds property for a disabled person who is unable to manage his or her own financial affairs. Special Needs Trusts can be used to pass wealth to a disabled person without interfering with his or her state or federal benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Free Estate Planning Resources
Here are some free estate planning resources to help you get the process started:
Michigan Estate Planning Attorney
Many details are involved in creating your estate plan, and it is never too early to start. Even if you have already created a will or trust, it is important to revisit the terms so that you can make any necessary changes. Our estate planning attorney at Atlas Law, PLC, provides a wide variety of estate planning services; including estate management; wills, living trusts, revocable trusts, family trusts, and special needs trusts; health care surrogate; living wills; and other services.
We offer free consultations and flexible appointments to meet your needs, including weekends and after-hours appointments.
To learn more about your options, call us at (248) 773-5555.