Estate Planning: Deciding Who Gets What

There is a common misperception that only the truly wealthy need to have an estate plan. However, if you own anything worth more than $18,000 (in the state of Michigan), from property to personal items, you need an estate plan to avoid having the state decide who gets whatever there is, from property to investments to even trivial items, such as a cherished family photo album. And the state doesn’t do this for free – your family will have to pay court costs, inheritance and estate taxes, just to have strangers decide who is entitled to your assets.

You can avoid these problems by preparing the proper legal documents. Estate planning is simply deciding on who gets what and having legal papers that document it. A qualified estate planning attorney can guide you through the process, which can be relatively quick or take several months depending on your financial situation and assets. And as long as you have your wits, you can change this document as often as you wish.

Some questions to discuss with your estate planner include:
Who will be the administrator of my estate?
How can I provide for my estate after I am gone?
What fees and costs can I avoid through proper estate planning?
Who is best qualified to make the decisions when I no longer can?
Although these are all questions many of us do not like to think about, the sooner you take care of it, the sooner you can move on and forget about it. With the beginning of the New Year, it may be a good time to make estate planning one of your New Year’s Resolutions.

Fairfield County Business Journal, December 12, 2006

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