You need to make an estate plan to prevent intestate succession

On behalf of Bebout, Potere, Cox & Bennion, P.C. posted in estate planning on Tuesday, November 15, 2016.

According to a recent estimate, over half of Michigan’s residents have no estate plan in place. Thinking about the transfer of assets in one’s estate can be a daunting task, to be sure. Some may not want to think about estate planning until they reach retirement age. Yet such procrastination is missing an important point: State law provides default rules for individuals who die intestate, which is the legal term for not having a will.

Said another way, the state has already created the functional equivalent of an estate plan for its residents. The laws of intestacy determine which heirs may receive an intestate decedent’s assets, as well as each heir’s share. If a mental disability renders an individual unable to make his or her own decisions, the rules of probate will also appoint a conservator to make financial decisions. Those rules will also designate a guardian for decisions concerning the individual’s health care needs.

Many people would prefer to make their own financial and health care decisions. Knowing that a will must be created in order to override the state’s default inheritance rules may provide the necessary motivation. Our estate planning law firm can help individuals plan for their financial and medical future.

Although each estate plan is unique, a good starting point is a last will and testament, a living will and advance directive, a power of attorney, and a revocable trust. The documents are complementary. For example, the will typically references other aspects of the estate plan, such as naming the power of attorney, a revocable trust, and other items.