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Wills, trust and probate administration

Which estate planning tools do I need? This is a common question among Michigan residents as they look to the future and the best way to handle their property. There is often confusion regarding the need for a will, a trust or perhaps both. Additionally, many individuals express concern related to trust and probate administration.

In many instances, a will is the appropriate document. In its most basic form, a will is a piece of paper that indicates how the individual wants his or her property to be distributed upon death. In most instances, the will also indicates who will act as the personal representative to see that the terms of the will are carried out. Additionally, if minor children are involved, the will should specify who will be responsible for caring for the children. Upon the death of the individual, the will is presented to the court as a part of the probate process and becomes a part of public record.

For some, however, a trust is more appropriate. With a trust, assets are transferred to the trust and are then managed by the trustee. This often occurs during the individual's lifetime, and the individual can act as trustee. Depending upon the type of trust, changes can often be made as the individual deems necessary. A trust allows assets to be transferred without court involvement and does not become a part of public record.

Estate planning is an important part of taking care of one's property and loved ones. As the Michigan resident considers all the necessary details, there are often a number of questions related to trust and probate administration. Experienced legal counsel can assist in answering these questions and guiding the individual regarding the best way to meet his or her specific needs.

Source: nwitimes.com, "Estate Planning: Distinct differences between wills and trusts", Christopher Yugo, Jan. 21, 2018

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