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Many include charitable donations in estate plans

There are many Michigan residents who have favorite charities. Maybe it is a charity that provides support and research to patients battling certain illnesses, like cancer or heart disease. Or, maybe it is a religious congregation that one feels particularly connected to.

According to Charity Navigator, charitable bequests -- meaning leaving money or property to a specific nonprofit -- were up 19 percent in the past year. This means more and more people are being mindful of the charities that are important to them and the values they would like passed on in their estate plans.

However, this is certainly not the only trend that is emerging in estate planning, as many are now also seeing the idea of leaving money with a purpose in mind playing out when it comes to how inheritance will be divided up within a family.

For example, let's say a father has two adult children. Of those two children, one is rather financially well-off. The other adult child, while certainly not destitute, does not earn as much money and has a child with special needs.

In this situation, when putting together his estate plan, the father may want to leave more of an inheritance to the child earning less with the special needs child.

Along these same lines, with more and more blended families, decisions on how to split up money and property can become somewhat complicated when it comes to blended families and children from first, second and third marriages.

In the end, while these decisions can be difficult to make, an attorney with experience handling estate planning can help to explain the different options that are often available.

Source: The Seattle Times, "Setting up a will to pass on 'spiritual' estate planning passes on values of departed," Donna Gehrke-White, Jan. 6, 2013

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