Farming has a long tradition in Michigan, even though the number of farms and the amount of acreage devoted to farming has decreased steadily over the last century. Still, for many Michigan residents, it is a way of life.
Poor estate planning could defeat good intentions and actually leave more problems than assets to beneficiaries if estate plan tax implications have not been carefully managed. The recent death of actor James Gandolfini serves to highlight the pitfalls a person could face without a clear understanding of all the tax implications of an estate plan and how to choose the best methods for the distribution of property and assets.
Estate planning is an important step everyone should take to make sure their wishes are known and their assets are handled accordingly upon their death. For parents who have a child with special needs, estate planning is an essential tool that should be used to help care for your child.
Many people in Michigan know that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett -- the billionaires behind Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway, respectively -- have pledged to give most of their fortunes to charitable causes, rather than thier children. While this is a magnanimous gesture on their part, is it practical for people other than the ultra-wealthy to do something similar with their estate planning?
Even though no one likes to think about planning for their death, it's still a vital part of life. Living wills, trusts and health proxies are all important items to have in place. However, in most states, challenges arise for couples who are not married, when it comes to making end of life arrangements.
When people in Oakland County think about estate planning, more than likely, what comes to mind are physical assets: real estate -- including the family home -- cars, and household goods. Additionally, retirement accounts or stock portfolios are considered to be assets, and while you can't exactly hold the contents of your 401(k) in your hand, you could theoretically sell it and convert it to cash, which you could then literally put in your pocket.
When it comes to estate planning, many Michigan families think the best concept to keep in mind is fairness. However, it should be noted that being fair doesn't necessarily mean that assets should be split equally.
The season for changing estate tax exemptions is upon us. Only four months ago, a so-called "permanent" exemption was created for estates of $5 million or less. However, because there was nothing in the national budget proposal that said Congress couldn't change the exemption in the future, the "permanent" limit isn't all that permanent.
When you have significant assets and the desire to preserve a legacy, you sometimes need a few brainstorming sessions to cover all of the bases. It is also important for Oakland County residents to draft estate planning documents to ensure that your wishes are carried out; otherwise, unexpected decisions may cast asunder the plans that you assumed would come true.
When we talk about estate planning, the focus is often on how your assets and property will be distributed after you die. But Michigan residents should realize that it's also important to consider your needs as you become elderly or in need of significant -- and costly -- health care.