403 W Main St. Belding, MI 48809

 

Ensure you are making the correct decisions when it comes to your estate:

Procrastinating - Recent surveys show that more than 40% of Americans over 45 have not created a will.  The fact is, you need a plan that dictates where your property will go.  A will, trusts, insurance policies, naming beneficiaries:  these are just some of the ways you can protect your assets and control how they will be distributed.

 

Titling property incorrectly - Some people who try to do their own estate plans often add children or other beneficiaries to bank accounts, investment accounts, real estate deeds and other property to try and avoid probate or plan for disability.  However, this can create a number of serious problems.  For instance, the added person may have creditors who can then access the property to satisfy debts; or the added person can get divorced, allowing the former spouse to claim part of the property; certain tax benefits may be eliminated unnecessarily, creating capital gains taxes, and other tax liabilities may be triggered (such as gift taxes).

 

Failing to keep beneficiary forms up to date - Unfortunately, many people never look at the forms that designate who receives the money for IRAs, life insurance policies and other important documents after sending them to the institutions where the accounts were set up.  So, for instance, if you get divorced and remarried, but don’t take your ex-wife’s/husband’s name off the IRA beneficiary form you former spouse and not your widow/widower stand to inherit the money.

 

Life insurance - Life insurance proceeds are generally included in your estate, which can mean that for many estates, 45% of your insurance proceeds will go to the IRS.  Most people don’t realize this.  A fairly simple trust, called an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust, can prevent it from happening.

 

Failing to use the federal estate exemption twice - If you are married, both you and your spouse are each entitled to an estate exemption.  However, if you die and leave your entire estate to you surviving spouse, you will lose your personal exemption, in effect reducing the overall exemption by half.  By creating a joint living trust and putting all or some of your estate into it, you can avoid this costly mistake, and for some couples, save your estate hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

 

Failing to plan for disability - The costs of nursing home care can average thousands of dollars per month and are climbing ever higher.  If you or your spouse suffer a debilitating stroke or other severe illness, paying for this care can be difficult.  An effective estate plan can offer solutions to these situations, which are becoming more and more common today with advances in medical care and people living longer than ever before.

 

Letting your estate end up in probate court - Probate proceedings can go on for months, even years, and consume up to 5% or more of your estate’s value.  The probate process is also very stressful on surviving loved ones who are grieving your loss.  We can show you ways to avoid probate, or lead your heirs through the difficult process with skill and compassion.

 

Failing to keep your plan updated - Your estate plan should be reviewed, at the very least, every two years.  After all, life is full of changes:  your needs and goals change; your financial situation changes; children grow older and no longer need conservators or trustees; they have children of their own; they get divorced or develop personal problems.  Updating your plan allows you to take these changes into account.

 

Failing to hire the right attorney - Beyond protecting yourself against potential problems like those mentioned above, it is critical to choose an attorney who is not only highly experienced and competent, but one you feel comfortable with.  You’re not just paying for technical expertise, you’re paying for counsel.  This means your attorney must be someone you like, someone you can confide in, someone who will take the time to get to know you and your unique goals and concerns.