Questions about Estate Planning in Michigan

Q.    What is a Will?

A.    A Will is a legal document that comes into affect upon your death. In a Will, you appoint an executor to handle your estate. The executor will then distribute your property to your beneficiaries according to your wishes as outlined in your Will. Your Will also establishes a guardian for any minor children you may have at the time of your death. If you die without a Will, the laws of your state may distribute your property differently than you intended. Creating a Will now, and keeping it updated, ensures that upon your death your wishes will be followed and your family cared for in the manner you directed.

Q.    What is a Trust?

A.    A Trust is a written expression of your desires as to the management of your assets during your lifetime if you become incapacitated, and to whom the assets pass upon your death. Put another way, it is an arrangement under which one person gives some part or all of his money, securities, real estate, or other property to another as trustee. Those who are able to receive benefits form the Trust are known as beneficiaries. The arrangement establishes: 1) Who the beneficiaries will be, what each will receive, and when they will receive it; 2) How much investment authority will be given to the trustee to meet the needs of the beneficiaries; and 3) What the duration of the Trust will be within the limits allowed by law.

Q.    How does a Living Trust work?

A.    A Living Trust is created during your lifetime, usually for your own benefit for as long as you live; and, after that, for the members of your family or other designated beneficiaries of your choice. You, the grantor, transfer assets to another party, known as a trustee. The Trust can be effective immediately for the management of your assets, thereby relieving you of that responsibility. Income can be made payable to you, and you can withdraw any or all assets as you desire. Assets transferred to a Living Trust need not pass under a Will, which results in both a savings of probate administration expenses, and the uninterrupted management of the assets upon your death. Living Trusts appeal to a variety of people, because they can be structured to provide a broad range of benefits. They can accomplish almost any financial protective purpose, help secure tax savings, and be a means of providing daily support for your family now and in the future.

Q.    What is a Power of Attorney?

A.    A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you appoint an “Agent” to act on your behalf in the case that you are unable to act for yourself. There are several types of Power of Attorney, including: a General Power of Attorney, a Special Power of Attorney, a Medical Power of Attorney, and a Durable Power of Attorney. The knowledgeable estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Graham & Hubbert will carefully explain the nuances of each type to you, ensuring that you have the proper paperwork in place in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

Q.    Why might I need a Medical Power of Attorney?

A.    A Medical Power of Attorney assures you that your medical wishes will be followed in the event that you cannot speak for yourself. By signing a Medical Power of Attorney, you outline your wishes for important medical decisions such as receiving life-support. In the event of your incapacity, your Agent will have the power to enforce your wishes.