You have spent a lifetime building your estate, so why leave what happens to it to chance? Careful estate planning is essential to ensure that you and your affairs are treated with the respect and dignity you demand.
Like every other state, Michigan has probate laws that dictate what happens if a person becomes incapacitated or passes away. They direct who is allowed to make decisions on the person’s behalf, and how that person’s assets are used or distributed. When a person becomes incapacitated and unable to care for himself or herself, the law permits the court to appoint a guardian over the person) and a conservator over his or her assets. After a person passes away, probate law dictates how the estate is divided and who will receive the assets. However, these default rules leave space for conflict and delays at a time when time is of the essence. The estate planning attorneys at Cohen Lerner & Rabinovitz can help you close the gaps so that the administration of your estate proceeds smoothly.
The Estate Planning Advantage
A robust estate plan is designed to reduce, and sometimes even eliminate, court involvement in the probate process. The several documents involved allow you to deliberate and decide who should handle your affairs and what that person should do. They can keep the burden of making difficult life decisions from falling on your spouse or children when they are ill-equipped to deal with the stress. By naming a trusted individual as your Power of Attorney and Patient Advocate, you can select a person who will be able to handle your affairs, even in an emotional time.
The probate process is also public. Documents are part of the public record and hearings are held in open court. An estate plan can help you protect your family’s privacy. By creating a trust, you can remove your family’s affairs from the public eye and provide them with a measure of peace.
Documenting Medical Decisions
Several estate planning documents are intended to apply while a person is still alive. Durable powers of attorney allow the designee to work with your bank to fulfill any ongoing financial obligations. Patient advocate designations and HIPPA releases indicate who doctors should turn to for consent regarding treatment options. Medical directives lay out your preferences for end-of-life care. All of these documents are designed to ensure that you live out your life on your own terms, without the interference of loved ones who may have different ideas or priorities.
Anticipating Future Needs
In deciding how your affairs should be handled in the event of your incapacity or death, you are necessarily looking into the future and attempting to anticipate your family’s needs. At Cohen Lerner & Rabinovitz, our estate planning attorneys can assist you in preparing for circumstances you may not have considered. For example, our lawyers will assist you in selecting alternative beneficiaries, trustees, and other designees, in case someone is no longer willing or able to perform the desired task.
We will also help you establish protections for family members who may not benefit from receiving their inheritance all at once upon your death. Whether it is a young child, not yet ready to make responsible decisions, or a disabled relative whose aid depends on a certain financial standing, Cohen Lerner will help you anticipate your family’s circumstances and make plans to meet their needs.
Business Succession for Corporate Executives
At Cohen, Lerner & Rabinovitz, we are happy to provide estate planning to our corporate litigation clients. We understand how a disruption at the executive level can affect business operations. We will work with your executives, partners, and owners to create a workable business succession plan that will keep your company going if something should happen to one of your key members.
When to Contact an Estate Planning Attorney
Unfortunately, many people wait until they begin to experience health challenges before addressing their estate planning needs. A sudden accident or unexpected medical event can leave the family scrambling to obtain the appropriate authority and make necessary decisions. There is no reason to wait. At Cohen, Lerner & Rabinovitz, we have lawyers who can help you put a plan together to ensure you and your family are protected, should the worst happen. Contact us online or call 248.691.2200 to schedule a consultation with an estate planning attorney today.