Alward Fisher Rice Rowe & Graf
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Estate planning can mean more than writing a will

Estate planning is a term that keeps appearing in Michigan. If a person has a will is that a sufficient estate plan? A will helps to determine who will inherit one's belongings after one's death. It does not make any provisions for what can happen if a person becomes mentally or physically unable to make decisions regarding finances, health care or other issues. Careful estate planning can cover these contingencies.

In addition to a will, components of an estate plan can include powers of attorney, trusts and health care directives as well as a letter of intent and instruction. Powers of attorney enable authorized persons to act on behalf of another person should that person not be able to act on his or her own behalf. A trust can protect assets from lengthy probate procedures. Health care directives can be used to state a person's wishes regarding continued health care should one become unable to communicate his or her wishes to medical personnel. A letter of intent can clarify not only who is receiving an asset but why.

Adding the above components to an estate plan can accomplish many things. Lengthy probate can be avoided through use of a trust. A letter of intent and instruction can help to avoid family squabbles. And perhaps most importantly, a health care directive can ease decisions for a family at a very difficult time.

A person in Michigan who is considering an estate plan could benefit from a discussion with an experienced estate planning attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can review a person's assets and other aspects of his or her estate. The lawyer can assist a person in ensuring that his or her final wishes are successfully carried out.

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