Alward Fisher Rice Rowe & Graf
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To include or exclude: Financial accounts and estate planning

Estate plans are becoming a little more sophisticated in Michigan as more people become familiar with the multitude of options and tools that are available. For example, having a trust is a way to avoid the lengthy process of probate. In addition to the tools for estate planning, there are also multiple tools available for building wealth and establishing an estate. Included in these are items such as CDs and money markets. How should they be accounted for when considering estate planning?

One advantage to a trust is that it enables a trustee to manage a person's accounts in the event that he or she becomes incapacitated. A CD or money market account can have a beneficiary, but that person only gains control in the event of the death of the account holder. Another benefit to including CDs and money market accounts in a trust is that those accounts can then be used to help fund the trust.

As was mentioned above, part of the reason a trust exists may be to avoid the probate process. If accounts are not included in a trust, they could become subject to probate. In order to ensure that a person's wishes are successfully carried out, the dispersion of financial accounts should be carefully considered.

A person contemplating or reviewing an estate plan in Michigan will likely benefit from consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney. There are multiple options available for building an estate plan. A review from a lawyer could help to ensure that a person's final wishes are all accounted for and set up to be appropriately carried out.

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