Expecting parents and new parents frequently have many discussions about the futures of their children. It can be exciting to choose the name of a baby. Dreaming about high school graduation, college and the opportunities for the future are exciting times. There are other topics expecting parents and new parents struggle with. Potential changes to work schedules, managing and financing day care and adjusting the household budget to provide for a new child are common concerns.
Published in the Ferndale Patch
By Mera McKenna (Patch Staff) - January 24, 2017 4:00 pm ET
Many people delay writing a will. Perhaps it's due to fear of the unknown, or anxiety at the thought of the end of life. It's understandable. You may have thought about what you'd like to happen when you die, but you're afraid to put it in writing because it feels too serious or final. Even if you're middle-aged, you might still be putting it off. Isn't estate planning for "old people"?
In past generations, family members, fiduciaries and other individuals often had to scour through safe-deposit boxes, desks and boxes to gather documents and photos left behind by a loved one. As our culture continues to move further away from paper toward a paperless society, more and more assets and memories are stored in the cloud. Our digital lifestyle has made it vital for individuals to address digital assets in estate planning documents, such as a will and powers of attorney.
When most people hear the phrase "estate plan," they usually associate the task of allocating assets, assigning executors and beneficiaries, and establishing trusts to elderly folks with money. What is actually the case is that most individuals who have assets benefit from developing an estate plan. In the past, drawing up a list of assets and property could involve cars, sentimental items, a house or money saved in a banking account.
Unmarried couples who live together in Michigan face a unique set of legal matters related to estate and probate planning. Couples who live together but aren't married may be doing so for a variety of reasons. Usually, these types of couples are younger and do not believe in the institution of marriage, or they are elderly and have a more platonic, financially-centered relationship.
No matter how much we try, we cannot predict the future. The best we can do is to prepare for it. If you are at any point unable to manage your assets and affairs, you will want someone in charge of all of these things whom you have chosen and that you know has your best interests in mind. When someone is in the position of legally making decisions on behalf of another, they are known as having power of attorney.
In this digital age, our values have shifted to incorporate digital assets on a level similar to our personal belongings and assets. Accordingly, estate planning and its practices have changed to include these assets. Your digital footprint and memories are not only valuable to you but also your loved ones. We make great efforts to use, share and protect our online photos, files and data while we are alive, but what happens to them after we become incapacitated or die? Howard Collens helped to pass legislation in Michigan that provides guidance and allows you to address the handling of your digital assets within your estate plan. The Michigan Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act provides a method for you to grant authority to an agent under a power of attorney, a personal representative under a last will and testament, a trustee under a trust or a guardian or conservator through the probate court for access to social media, online accounts and email. You may also restrict access to digital assets through your estate plan. Galloway and Collens, PLLC is proud to have Howard Collens featured in a recent Lawyers Weekly article, "Include 'digital assets' in estate planning," addressing these concerns. If you would like to learn more on how to grant or restrict access to your digital assets, please follow the link below to read the Lawyers Weekly article.
While it is important for everyone to outline exactly what their wishes are for their assets and minor children, it is particularly important for single parents to ensure no stone goes unturned when legally outlining what their wishes are in the event of their passing. Michigan parents who are raising children on their own must take steps to create a comprehensive estate plan. The fate of assets is on the line, and, more importantly, the fates of any minor children are on the line also.
Business creators work tirelessly to ensure success, but that may all be in vain if proper provisions are not in place to protect the business later on. An appropriate estate plan covers both personal and business interests. Michigan business owners can benefit from creating an estate plan specifically for the business they have worked to see successful.