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Grand Traverse County Michigan Divorce and Estate Planning Blog

Estate planning involves planning for an uncertain future

Planning for the future takes on many forms. Creating a will and deciding who will inherit what assets is just a part of the estate planning process for many Michigan individuals. Perhaps one of the most important parts of this process is planning for what needs to happen and who should make decisions if one is no longer able to make them.

Illness and injury can strike with little warning. One minute an individual is fine and living life to the fullest; the next minute, the individual is involved in a catastrophic accident and can no longer express his or her desires. In addition, many illnesses cause the individual to lose the ability to make decisions. For these reasons, an advanced health care directive is an important part of the estate planning process. With this in place, another individual is tasked with making these decisions in the event that the individual is no longer able to do so.

Estate planning and trusts

Planning for the future takes on many forms. Many families plan for college, vacations and even the purchase of their dream home. One other type of planning Michigan families need to consider is estate planning.

Estate planning can take on different forms. Some families find that a simple will is all that is necessary. However, other families discover that trusts are a better option given their circumstances. There are a number of different types of trusts to be considered.

Divorce and the prenuptial agreement

The details have been finalized and the big day is approaching. As the Michigan couple prepares to exchange their vows, they also need to prepare to protect their future. The number of marriages that end in divorce suggests that a prenuptial agreement is an essential document in protecting one's future.

The typical prenuptial agreement will address real estate and personal property owned prior to the marriage. These are generally stipulated to remain as personal rather than marital assets. In addition, debts owed by each individual prior to the marriage should be included. Otherwise, it is possible that one spouse could end up paying the other spouse's debts.

Estate planning important in protecting assets

At some point in time, each individual must recognize the fact that he or she will eventually die. While this is typically not a favorite topic of conversation for most Michigan residents, it is an inevitable fact that should be addressed and planned for. Proper estate planning can make a tremendous financial difference for the beneficiaries of one's estate.

In many cases, a will is the appropriate tool. A will can specify exactly what each individual is to receive. It can also dictate who is going to be responsible for any children who have yet to reach the age of majority. However, if the estate is relatively large, it is possible that a will could be a costly method for transferring property to beneficiaries. This fact has become apparent as Philip Seymour Hoffman's will has gone through the probate process and resulted in approximately $12 million in estate taxes.

Dynasty trusts may be interesting estate planning tool

A main concern that many Michigan residents may have when considering the estate they will leave behind is how to best protect their assets. There are many estate planning options that could help parties address such a concern, and trusts can be some of the most useful. This planning tool can be particularly helpful because there are many iterations that could suit a variety of needs.

If individuals are hoping to leave behind a legacy in terms of wealth, a dynasty trust could potentially help them achieve this goal. Dynasty trusts offer many of the same protections that other types of trust do, such as allowing for the avoidance of estate tax and keeping creditors away from assets. Additionally, this trust can also allow for the building of wealth over multiple generations. In fact, this type of trust could go on indefinitely if allowed by state law.

Difficult childhood divorce could have health impacts on adults

Many conditions of a person's life could impact his or her health. While some factors may seem obvious such as diet and living conditions, there are some other scenarios that may have more of an impact that realized. For instance, Michigan children whose parents went through a difficult divorce may be more likely to have immune system issues as adults.

A recent study utilized approximately 200 adults and explored the connection between parental divorce and sickness. Individuals who participated in the study apparently either had parents who remained married, divorced but continued to have contact, or divorced and no longer spoke during their childhoods. The participants were exposed to a virus that could result in their catching a common cold.

Estate planning may be appealing for those wanting control

During life, most individuals like to have at least some modicum of control over their affairs. Because the idea of not having control can seem extremely unsettling to some Michigan residents, many of those parties like to plan ahead for various scenarios. Luckily, estate planning can prove useful to people hoping to maintain control over how their estates are handled even after death.

With an estate plan, individuals can determine what type of tools will allow them to express their wishes in the best manner. A will is often the most familiar type of document, and creating a will can allow parties to address assets, name guardians for minor children and detail other important wishes regarding an estate. Additionally, people can explore other planning tools, such as trusts, to determine whether such documents could bolster their plans.

Revocable trusts may make Michigan estate planning easier

Having to change their minds is something that most people experience with some frequency. The catalyst for change can vary depending on the individual and circumstances, but typically, parties do not enjoy finding themselves in an irreversible scenario. Because of this apprehension, Michigan residents interested in using trusts during estate planning may wish to consider creating revocable trusts.

For individuals desiring flexibility, revocable trusts can prove useful. After its creation, this type of trust can go through alterations, depending on the desires of the creator. Because it can be difficult to predict financial needs and goals, being able to make changes to such an account could help an individual feel more control and less anxious about making such decisions. 

Celebrity estate planning mistakes may help Michigan residents

Preparing end of life wishes does not come easy for everyone. Individuals from all walks of life may feel as if they do not need to plan, do not want to plan or simply believe that they can put it off until a later time. However, if too much time goes by without estate planning, a person could pass without having made his or her wishes known.

Even celebrities can make mistakes when it comes to creating an estate plan. As most Michigan residents know, well-known musician Prince died without creating a will, and though his death occurred over a year ago, issues regarding the distribution of his estate are still running rampant. As a result, his $300 million estate remains in the hands of the court. 

Lack of parenting help, communication may contribute to divorce

Though all relationships have their ups and downs, some individuals may notice that they have more dips than highs. As a result, they may begin to question whether continuing with the relationship is worthwhile. For many Michigan residents, certain catalysts could lead to their considering divorce, and in the long run, they could realize that this route provides the best solution to their issues.

For some parents, considerable marital problems can arise if one parent does not help share the parenting responsibilities. When one individual takes on the majority of the discipline, care and other duties, the situation can quickly become overwhelming. As a result, resentment could build up in the relationship, and if the other parent does not begin to take on more of an active role, lack of help could be enough to drive a wedge in the relationship.

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