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Estate plan: a need for people of all income levels

As many Michigan readers know, estate planning is often associated with people who are wealthy or possess valuable assets. In reality, an estate plan is a practical and beneficial step for people of all income levels. Anything that a person owns, including vehicles, homes or a retirement portfolio is considered to be part of a person's estate and may be passed to loved ones after the owner passes away.

Estate planning is the process of determining where and how property and assets are distributed after death. When a person fails to have a carefully, correctly drafted estate plan, all property and assets will be divided according to Michigan's intestacy laws. One of the initial steps of putting an estate plan in place is to draft a last will and testament. 

It is also important to have a living will. This outlines which medical treatments you want in case you are ever incapacitated from a serious illness or accident. Depending on a person's individual financial circumstances, a living trust may be a beneficial way to protect assets from probate and ensure that the details of an estate remain private.

It is possible to prevent a court from controlling property and ensure that loved ones receive their rightful shares of an estate, but it is important to have qualified legal help. An experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney can ensure that a person's interests are protected and wishes are respected by drafting the necessary legal documents. If a reader is unsure of where to begin with an estate plan, it is useful to start by seeking a consultation with a trusted attorney.

Source:, "Estate Planning for the Rest of Us", March 9, 2016

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