Wills vs Trusts for West Bloomfield, MI

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Our West Bloomfield wills and trusts lawyer, Douglas Kuthy, knows these documents are valuable estate planning tools that specify how a person’s assets should be distributed upon death. Still, they serve different purposes and offer diverse advantages.

When it comes to estate planning, the choice between a will and a trust is not one-size-fits-all. It depends on your unique goals, assets, family situation, and other factors.

This is why our Oakland County estate planning lawyer is here.

Douglas Kuthy works tirelessly to ensure our Michigan estate planning clients understand their legal options, document their decisions with skill and precision, and ensure no decision or detail is left to chance now or in the future.

Our dedicated estate planning attorney can help you understand whether you need a will, a trust, or both by thoroughly assessing your circumstances, goals, and concerns. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

How Can the West Bloomfield Estate Planning Attorney Douglas Kuthy Help Me Understand Whether I Need a Will or Trust?

Our estate planning attorney in West Bloomfield will extensively review objectives and consider factors like the value and nature of your assets, your family dynamics, the presence of minor children or individuals with special needs, and your preferences for asset distribution.

Based on your circumstances and goals, we will explain the various estate planning options available, including wills, trusts, and other planning tools. We will discuss the benefits and limitations of each option to help you understand how they apply to your situation.

Depending on what best achieves your objectives, we may recommend a will, a trust, or a combination of both, explain the reasons for our recommendations, and answer any questions you may have.

Based on your informed decisions, our West Bloomfield estate planning attorney will draft the necessary legal documents, including those that apply to your circumstances, which may include:

We will ensure that these documents accurately reflect your wishes and comply with all relevant laws and regulations so you can get the peace of mind you deserve.

Working with our experienced estate planning attorney in Oakland County can provide invaluable guidance in understanding whether you need a will, a trust, or other planning tools and creating a comprehensive estate plan that meets your needs and goals. Contact Douglas Kuthy today to learn how we can help bring you and your family the peace of mind you deserve.

Differences Between Wills and Trusts in MichiganUnderstanding the Differences Between Wills and Trusts in Michigan

Before you can determine whether a will, trust, or both is right for your estate planning goals, you must understand the nature of the documents and how they protect you now and in the future.

A will is a legal document outlining how your assets should be distributed upon death. It also allows you to designate guardians for minor children, name an executor to manage the estate, and address other important matters. A will only take effect upon your death.

A will’s instructions are subject to probate court approval and may be challenged by disgruntled heirs if all the details are not communicated upfront. We can help you understand how to make the most of your will documents to ensure your wishes are respected.

A trust is a legal arrangement where you transfer assets to a trustee, who holds and manages those assets to benefit designated beneficiaries. Trusts can be created during your lifetime through a living or testamentary trust. Unlike a will, a trust can take effect during your lifetime and continue after death.

Assets held in a trust generally bypass probate and are distributed directly to the beneficiaries specified in the trust document. This can help avoid probate costs and delays and maintain privacy, as trust administration is often handled privately outside of court.

Trusts also offer more flexibility and control over asset distribution. You can specify detailed instructions for asset management and distribution, set distribution conditions—such as age or milestones—and provide ongoing asset management for beneficiaries who may not be ready to handle large sums of money.

Developing a will, trust, or both is a personal decision that can only be made with customized estate planning information designed to meet your unique needs. We can help outline your estate plan to ensure your legacy is protected while you are healthy and enjoying life and long after you are gone. Contact our West Bloomfield wills and trusts attorney today to schedule an appointment to discuss your goals.

Do Wills and Trusts Protect a Person If They Become Incapacitated?

A will only take effect upon the person’s death and does not address incapacity planning.

Depending on its terms, a trust can be effective both during the person’s lifetime and after incapacity. A revocable living trust, for example, can allow for seamless asset management and incapacity planning by naming successor trustees to step in if the individual becomes incapacitated. Fortunately, other estate planning tools can help you plan for the unexpected, including Financial Powers of Attorney and Health Care Powers of Attorney. We can help you understand the benefits of each, starting with a free consultation.

Contact Douglas Kuthy today to discuss your estate planning needs so you can start protecting everything you have worked so hard to achieve.

If you already have an estate plan and believe it may need to be reviewed and updated to remain current and effective, we can help you make any necessary revisions based on changes in your life circumstances, goals, or the law.

Frequently Asked Questions

Every four minutes someone dies unexpectedly in the United States – not from old age or sickness but unexpectedly. Lack of preparation needlessly adds cost, effort, and distraction at a time when your family should be focused on mourning your loss.

A will is basically a letter of instruction to the court about what to do with your property after death. A will can do nothing until you are dead. Every will must go through probate. There is no exception. A trust is an agreement to hold property for the benefit of another. The law treats a trust as separate legal “person.” A trust is not required to go through probate.

Probate is the legal system’s solution to what happens to someone’s property after they die. The court determines whether there is a valid will and appoints someone (the “personal representative”) to manage the estate. Notice of the probate is given to the public and to creditors and the assets of the estate are determined. Creditors are paid and assets are distributed to the heirs named in the will or according to the priority established by law. Finally documents are filed with the court to close the probate.

Probate is public so your affairs will be public. Creditors or disgruntled family members can easily dispute, disrupt, and delay the management and disbursement of the estate. Probate always involves the court and limits what your loved ones can do. Probate takes at least nine months but can last years. Probate can be expensive, especially if it is contested. Probate always costs much more than preparing a trust centered estate plan.

Joint tenancy is a type of joint ownership in which the entire asset is transferred to the one joint owner upon the death of the other joint owner. It is true that this transfer does not require probate but if both owners die at the same time or if the second joint owner dies without proper planning, then probate will still be required.

When you add a joint owner you lose control over your property. If the joint owner is sued, the judgment will be a lien on your property. Joint tenancy often results in greater taxes. If the joint owner becomes incapacitated or a judgment is entered against the co-owner you may end up controlling the property with a stranger. Joint tenancy does not allow the transfer on death to be flexible to account for future changes in your circumstances. It is not simple or easy to make wise decisions about joint tenancy. By the time we work through the possibilities and probabilities of the future it would have been simpler, easier, and more effective to have created a trust centered estate plan.

Guardianship and conservatorship are the legal system’s solutions for what to do with a person who cannot make decisions regarding themselves or their property. A guardian has to report to the court and family members about the decisions that are made, usually for the rest of the person’s life. Being appointed guardian and reporting take time and money.

A “power of attorney” is document in which you appoint someone to act for you. If it is “durable” that person continues to act for you even if you lose the capacity to make your own decisions. Durable powers of attorney are powerful legal documents and can be very useful, especially when they are part of a trust centered estate plan.

A Trust is an agreement to hold property for the benefit of another. The law treats a trust as separate legal “person.” Like a Will, a Trust can contain provisions for the distribution of you assets to your loved ones after you die but the assets are distributed without probate. While you are alive you maintain possession and control of your assets. A revocable living Trust is simple, convenient, and affordable. It does not have to go through probate. A Will is basically a letter of instruction to the court about what to do with your property after death. A Will can do nothing until you are dead. Every Will must go through probate. There is no exception.

No. Trusts have existed for hundreds of years. They are so powerful that Teddy Roosevelt was elected as a “trust buster” to break up the powerful trusts used effectively by the extremely wealthy of the day. What is relatively new is using trusts to benefit people of more ordinary means.

Unlike a will, a trust can own property. And, the trust doesn’t die when you do. Instead, a successor trustee automatically replaces you and begins to manage the assets owned by the trust. The successor trustee can also distribute the assets to your loved ones. For a will to be as powerful as a trust, it must create a trust upon your death. To do so requires court involvement.

If you become incapacitated, a successor trustee chosen by you, replaces you and manages the assets owned by the trust on your behalf.

You do. As the grantor and trustee of the trust you have absolute control over your assets. You can continue to use them, sell them, or even borrow against them.

Real property is transferred to the trust by deed. Money in bank accounts will be transferred to trust upon your death when the trust is named as “P.O.D.” (“paid on death”). Life insurance will be transferred to the trust when the trust is named as a beneficiary. 401k and IRA accounts require special considerations because of income tax requirements. I can help you plan these properly.

It is brief, simple and convenient. You will meet with me to discuss your needs, desires and particular circumstances. I will prepare the documents. A few days later we will meet again to sign the documents. It takes much less time, effort and money than it will take to deal with death and disability if you do not prepare.

Usually, your spouse will control your assets. If you don’t have a spouse, a successor trustee, someone of your choosing, will control your assets.

A trustee should be honest and responsible. No other particular qualification is necessary. A trustee does not have to be an accountant or a lawyer. Often, the best choice is a child or sibling.

After you die your trust can continue to be managed by the trustee you selected. The trustee will distribute assets according to your direction. For example, the trust can hold assets for a child’s education or for a child who is not ready to manage the assets himself or a for a child with disabilities. You can direct the trustee to do just about anything you want with your assets.

Trusts are used by most people to avoid the cost, time and contention of Probate. Most people do not owe estate taxes because their estate is under the estate tax threshold. However, a proper trust will give you maximum estate tax protection.

Preparing a proper trust is not a self-help task. To comprehensively plan for whatever the future may bring takes experienced and competent counsel.

A trust centered estate plan includes a particular type of will called a “pour over” will. In most cases the will won’t be used. If it is used, it puts all assets into your trust. Your trustee can then distribute the assets to your loved ones, as you directed.

A living will directs physicians to stop life support that is unnaturally keeping you alive if your condition is terminal. It shifts the burden of decision from the health care provider to you so that your wishes can be followed without inappropriate delay.

A health care directive is a document that gives someone else the ability to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so, again preventing delay. This document is sometimes referred to as a “health care power of attorney.”

It is a plan prepared by me that includes a revocable living trust, pour-over wills, durable powers of attorney, living wills, health care directives and deeds. It is comprehensive, administratively easy and affordable.

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