Estate Planning Attorneys Serving Kent County and West Michigan

Estate planning is not just for those with extensive assets. Estate planning is essential for parents with minor children, business owners, and anyone who wants to have input into decisions about their health care and finances. In short, all Michigan adults should have an estate plan designed for their needs.

The unfortunate reality is that most Americans die without creating an estate plan, even though most people readily acknowledge they want to save their heirs the expense, wasted time, taxes and grief that occur when someone dies without a proper estate plan in place. If you have a blended family, children who don't get along, or intended heirs who are not close relatives, the risk increases that your assets will not end up with whom you want them to be. Taking time to implement a few simple measures can prevent this from happening.

Benefits of Creating an Estate Plan

At Plachta, Murphy & Associates we are dedicated to helping our clients create an estate plan designed to meet their specific goals and those of their loved ones. When you create a proper estate plan, you protect much more than just your assets; you protect your family and other loved ones through a combination of:

  • Choosing a Guardian and Conservator for Your Minor Children: Without an estate plan, state law chooses a person, usually a close biological relative, to be your children's guardian and conservator if you and your spouse should die. Creating a simple will allows you to name whoever you choose for these important roles, not a judge who doesn't know you or your family.
  • Avoiding Probate: The probate process can be complex, time-consuming and expensive. A revocable living trust is a straightforward document that leaves you in control of your assets during life and lets your beneficiaries avoid probate upon your death.
  • Minimizing Taxes: If you have significant assets, your estate could be subject to death taxes. Depending on your needs, there are various types of trusts that can be put in place to protect your assets and minimize the tax burden on your estate.
  • Providing for Loved Ones with Special Needs: If you have a child or other loved ones with special needs, they could lose access to means-tested government benefits if they inherit directly from you. Special needs trusts allow you to provide for them without jeopardizing their benefits.
  • Maintaining Control of Your Own Medical Decisions: If you are incapacitated and can't make or communicate your own medical decisions, a Designation of Patient Advocate names someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf, and offers them your guidance in doing so.
  • Distributing Your Assets According to Your Wishes: If you die without an estate plan, your assets are distributed according to Michigan law, which may or may not be consistent with your wishes. An estate plan directs where you want your assets to go, which is especially important if you want to leave money to charity or individuals who are not close blood relatives.
  • Protecting Your Business: If you are a business owner, failing to properly plan for the transition of your business increases the likelihood that it will fail after it changes hands. Business transition planning protects your hard work and your business's future.

Of course, for most people, a principal reason for estate planning is to preserve family harmony and relationships. By making your wishes clear through your estate plan you greatly reduce the risk that your loved ones will argue over what you wanted, dissipate your estate through legal battles, and create permanent rifts that could have been prevented. The cost of preparing a customized estate plan is less than you might think, and certainly less than the cost of unnecessary probate litigation.

Compassionate, Experienced Grand Rapids Estate Planning Attorneys

No one plans to fall victim to a sudden, severe illness or accident, but everyone knows someone who has. Don't put your planning off until it's too late. You hold in your hands the power to protect your loved ones from worry about their future. We hold in ours the ability to help you create an estate plan designed for your situation and your family's needs.

Plachta, Murphy & Associates is a full-service law firm offering comprehensive estate planning services and probate estate and trust administration. We take pride in listening to your needs and concerns and helping achieve peace of mind for your loved ones' future with a customized estate plan. As your life circumstances change, we are here to re-evaluate and update your plan in accordance with your needs.

We invite you to download our Estate Planning Questionnaire - Married or Estate Planning Questionnaire - Single to get started, and contact Plachta, Murphy & Associates to schedule a consultation with a member of our Estate Planning team.

Estate Planning Team: Brian J. Plachta, Bryan D. Reeder, Jeffrey M. Black, Richard J. Cross

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