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Without knowledge of an estate, an estate plan can be complicated

People may know they need an estate plan, but that can mean different things to different people. Anyone in Michigan who attempts to create an estate plan will need to understand what their estate actually entails. It is then important to understand what one's wishes are and how to make that happen efficiently and cost-effectively.

A person must first and foremost understand what their estate includes. A good place to start is to outline a person's net worth. It can be very difficult to divvy up wealth without understanding what kind of assets actually exist. Net worth is determined by taking the worth of assets and subtracting any liabilities, which is all debts. Appraisals of assets may be necessary to conduct this important step.

Deciding on beneficiaries and also what to give those beneficiaries can be a difficult process. If a person has no children, they may need to consider options such as extended family, friends and/or charities. A person may have multiple assets and may want to evenly split them, or perhaps give more to one child over another for whatever reason, such as estrangement or addiction. While these decisions may be difficult and personal, it is important that they are made once the full value of an estate is determined.

There are many avenues that can be pursued when a person begins the process of creating an estate plan. In Michigan, it may be beneficial to understand the process and how best to go about legally making wishes effective and applicable to a given situation. Putting off an estate plan is never advised, and revisiting an estate plan periodically as also important as any family circumstances or changes in wealth occur.

Source:, "Estate Planning Guide 101: A Basic Guide To Establishing Your Estate", Joe Young, Oct. 15, 2014

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