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Grand Traverse County Michigan Divorce and Estate Planning Blog

Trust and probate administration can affect one's estate

How and when to transfer assets to beneficiaries can be a difficult decision for many Michigan residents. Some prefer the traditional process of wills and probate. Others, however, look for ways to save and make the process easier. A careful analysis of how the trust and probate administration process affects the individual's estate can help one decide the best way to transfer assets.

Trusts are often created as a means of transferring assets in a manner that minimizes cost and confusion for loved ones. Assets are placed into the trust during one's lifetime and allow the individual to control who receives assets and when they are disbursed. Additionally, depending upon the type of trust, changes can be made as the individual sees fit.

Does divorce threaten your business?

When a person who owns a business faces divorce, the end of his or her marriage may also threaten the business itself, and many people who depend on the business. In most cases, the easiest and most effective way to prevent these potentially disastrous consequences is to protect the business using a prenuptial agreement, but many business owners do not have the foresight to do so, leaving the success of the business potentially dependent on the success of the marriage.

If you find yourself scrambling for ways to protect the business you own from the effects of your failing marriage, it is important to determine your priorities and then act as quickly and decisively as you can. You may have more protective options than you realize, and an experienced divorce attorney who understands complex assets can help you assess the threats your divorce poses to your business and the legal options available to protect it.

Seeking guidance on how a divorce might impact one's finances

The end of a marriage will inherently bring about change to the lives of everyone involved. For individuals in Michigan who are facing divorce, many may consider it vital to take steps to protect their financial futures throughout the process. However, with little to no experience in the area, some may be uncertain how a similar process might affect this area of life, potentially prompting a need to seek guidance on how best to approach the situation.

In equitable distribution states, such as Michigan, the division of property must be fair, but it doesn't necessarily have to be equal. This process also includes the division of marital debts, which could have a significant influence on a person's financial future, even if only temporarily. In addition, even if one party agrees to responsibility for certain marital debts, should these accounts become overdue, the credit score of the other individual may suffer in the process.

Michigan divorce and pet custody

When a Michigan couple decides to end their marriage, many decisions will need to be made. Who will keep which assets and be responsible for which liabilities are often just the beginning. Custody issues often come in to play as terms of the divorce agreement are settled.

The average family consists of children as well as one or more family pets. When one thinks of custody issues, the children are often the ones who come to mind. However, in many families, the family pet is considered to be a part of the family. As such, a pet can also become an area of contention as each party vies for custody.

Trust and probate administration part of estate planning

Estate planning is an important part of protecting one's family and estate. Upon death, the Michigan resident's assets will be distributed to others. How this is handled and who receives what is often part of the estate plan. As such, there are a number of aspects, including trust and probate administration, that need to be considered.

Some assets will be distributed based upon beneficiary designations. For example, life insurance policies and most bank accounts have a designated beneficiary. Other assets will be distributed based upon what is included in the individual's will. Prior to this distribution, however, the estate will need to go through probate.

Proper estate planning requires periodic reviews

Many Michigan residents recognize the need to create an estate plan. This is the overall plan designed to inform loved ones, medical professionals and the courts of the individual's desires for end-of-life care and the final disposition of one's assets. One often takes great care in establishing the plan and devising the proper documents. However, this is not the end of the process. In addition, reviewing and revising these documents as necessary is an important part of the estate planning process.

Any time there is a change in marital status, it is also time to review the various estate planning documents. A spouse may need to be added or removed from the will, insurance policies, bank accounts, investment accounts and other related documents. Additionally, it may be necessary to add another individual, such as a child or other family member, to these documents.

Finding long-term care plans for elderly parents ensures care

If you are an adult child of parents who are senior citizens, you may already be worried about your parents' care in the coming years. Still, broaching the subject with them can be a minefield in some families. Learn how you can open the doors of communication on estate planning and assure that your parents get the help that they need.

Start discussions before there is a need

Financial planning key to stability after divorce

Financial planning is important throughout various phases of one's life. Many times, decisions that can have lasting financial implications are made based on emotion. This is often the case when a Michigan resident decides to divorce.

Prior to and throughout the divorce process, emotions are generally a guiding force. Decisions are often made based upon feelings, wants and desires rather than sound financial advice and planning. The desire to keep certain assets can overwhelm the individual and cloud sound judgement.

Money and divorce

In many Michigan families, the home is the central focal point for many decisions. Couples spend time selecting the home, taking care of it and building a life in it. Then, when this life is altered by divorce, the dilemma of who gets the home can become an issue.

Many times, one of the individuals seeks to acquire the home as part of the divorce settlement. At times this is a prudent decision. However, in other cases, it may not be in the individual's best interest.

I’m a divorcing father. What are my child custody rights?

Child custody looks different from state to state, but regardless of location most people assume custody will be awarded to the mother in a divorce. What rights do fathers have in the custody process?

In Michigan, the answer is plenty. The Child Custody Act of 1970 states that parents are to be advised of joint custody by the courts. The language of the law is purposefully gender-neutral and does not favor the mother or the father. There are several factors the court reviews to determine the best interest of the child. While the moral fitness and mental and physical health of all parties are considered, genders are not.


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