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In Michigan, an estate plan can be about more than family

Traditionally, estate planning has been the process of handing down belongings and other assets from one generation to the next. The process of creating an estate plan is highly personal. That is reflected in some recent changes to the process in general, such as for those who do not have children or who are seeking a more creative approach. Michigan residents and others around the country are taking a different approach as family dynamics continue to evolve.

More families and individuals are choosing to not have children. As a result, childless couples or single individuals are taking a more charitable approach to leaving their assets behind in a will. Charitable giving is an approach that is gaining in popularity for those without children.

The trend toward philanthropic gifting as part of the estate planning process is present in those who have children also. Some are designating a percentage of assets to charity. Others are gifting to alma maters, specific organizations they had the benefit of being a part of or even to friends.

Regardless of a person's family situation, the right steps must be taken to ensure wishes are upheld and funds are handled appropriately. The gifting of funds or creation of trusts can help those without children make a plan for their estate and can also benefit those who have children but want a more well-rounded approach to devising their estate. Creating an estate plan in Michigan can be a smooth process once an individual decides where and how to divide the assets they have worked hard to earn and enjoy.

Source: The New York Times, "In Estate Planning, Family Isn't Always First", Caitlin Kelly, May 2, 2014

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