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It takes more than a will to complete an estate plan

Just as everyone's estate is unique and valuable to them and their family, the process of creating an estate plan also needs to be unique and address the individual needs of those who are affected by that estate. However, many people think the process simply entails creating a will to explicitly say who gets what. Michigan residents should understand there can be much more needed aside from a complete and legal will.

First of all, a will only plays a role upon death. If someone is incapacitated, issues still need to be addressed and decisions need to be made. This can entail keeping up with bills or other financial obligations. A power of attorney can outline who will make those vital decisions, especially if the person affected is single and does not want the courts to decide who gets to make these extremely important decisions.

Another part of the process that may need addressing is who will be listed as the beneficiary on retirement accounts and life insurance policies. Despite what a will may say, a beneficiary will get those accounts and benefits if that person is listed. It is recommended that a person review who is listed as beneficiary on accounts and policies to ensure that person is still relevant and a wanted beneficiary.

The entire process can become complex after an initial will is created. Even after the process seems complete, Michigan families may need to revisit a plan and make adjustments to a will, beneficiary designations or to a power of attorney. Staying up to date on a plan and the options that make sense for a particular family may be the best way to ensure little to no conflict when an estate plan it utilized.

Source:, "The 5 key components of a complete estate plan", Bruce Helmer and Peg Webb, Sept. 12, 2015

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