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Beware of loss of control in an estate plan

Creating an estate plan can be an overwhelming and emotional journey. For some, outlining the division of assets or funds can pose unique complications. Anyone in Michigan who is involved in creating an estate plan may want to carefully consider his or her options before relinquishing control of any aspect of his or her life.

Many people decide to sign over a house or property to an heir early on in the estate planning process. This is often seen as a way to avoid dealing with the tax implications of leaving the property to heirs through a will or having a home tied up in the time-consuming process that is probate. However, signing over a home while still living in it, and while still in possession of the ability to make important decisions, can backfire, leaving a perfectly competent person without the legal right to make decisions that directly impact his or her life.

On the flip side, many are afraid to create irrevocable trusts due to the belief that they lead to the loss of control over one's estate. However, if a trust is done properly, the person creating it can still maintain control and make changes if need be. This may prove necessary if a trust creator believes a trustee is not going to act in his or her best interests or if family circumstances change.

The process of creating and implementing an effective estate plan can be complicated based on family structure and a person or family's needs. While people want to protect their assets and ensure the fate of those assets through detailed planning, handing over those assets too soon can have consequences. The timing and execution of any decision related to an estate plan in Michigan requires thought and careful planning and may benefit from the guidance of a professional.

Source: Forbes, "Never Give Up Control When You Create Your Estate Plan", Mark Eghrari, Nov. 13, 2014

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