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Five-Tips-231x300There’s a lot that goes into estate planning, so it’s not a particularly simple process.  That said, there are some simple things you can keep in mind when gearing up to work with your Grand Rapids will and trust lawyer.

We have listed below a non-exhaustive list of the top five tips for basic Michigan estate planning.  These are some very basic concepts, and you may already know some of them.  We hope that these help introduce you to some aspects of Michigan Estate Planning that you have not thought about.  Please be sure to comment with any additional suggestions.

Michigan Estate Planning Tip #1:  Make a Will

When it comes to estate planning, one of the most important things you can do is create a will with your lawyer.  This document will leave written instructions of your wishes.  While you may assume that everyone already knows what you want, that doesn’t mean that the courts will care.  When you have a will, you’re making it legal.

Michigan Estate Planning Tip #2:  Talk About It

While laying your wishes out in a will is incredibly important, it’s also a very good idea to talk to your loved ones about what you’ve included in the will.  Talk to them all at once, if you can. That way, everyone is aware of your wishes, and it will be much less likely that something will be misinterpreted later.  A Grand Rapids will and trust lawyer can help direct this conversation if it’s something you don’t feel comfortable doing on your own.

Michigan Estate Planning Tip #3:  Review Your Beneficiaries

About once a year, go back over your assets and make sure that your estate plan is up-to-date.  This includes reviewing insurance policies, retirement funds, and any other accounts that have a beneficiary; along with your will, any trusts, etc.  Circumstances change, and it’s entirely possible that someone listed on an account is no longer a good choice as a beneficiary for a variety of reasons.

Michigan Estate Planning Tip #4:  Make a List

With so many different things to track, it’s a good idea to make a list of the information that your loved ones will need after your death.  Include things such as where to find important documents, how to access safe deposit boxes, passwords for online accounts, etc.  Financial records and personal documents such as birth/marriage/death certificates will also be helpful to your heirs.  Make sure that they know how to contact your will and trust lawyer in the Muskegon or Grand Rapids areas for further information.

Michigan Estate Planning Tip #5:  Appoint a Patient Advocate

Alongside your will, a patient advocate designation (often called a “health care power of attorney”) is a must.  This document names a person to give your family and health care providers directions to follow regarding your medical treatment.  Should you be unable to speak for yourself due to incapacitation, the patient advocate can answer many questions regarding the types of treatment you do and do not want.  It can also list your end-of-life directions (this part is also called a “living will”).

Obviously, these are just a few of the issues that you’ll want to discuss with a Grand Rapids will and trust lawyer, but having them in mind gives you a good place to start so you can move forward with confidence.