It can be hard to talk about death with your loved ones and what will happen upon your passing. However, estate planning is necessary to ensure your property and assets will be distributed in accordance with your desires. BRMM Law’s Danielle Mayoras recently appeared on WXYZ to discuss Estate Planning and Financial Literacy and why you need to plan ahead. She discussed the importance of estate planning, the potential pitfalls of not having a proper plan, and to encourage people to take the necessary steps to safeguard their wishes.
Here's what Danielle discussed on the tv show:
The Importance of Estate Planning and Having a Will in Place
A will is the foundation of every estate plan. Without at least having a valid will in place, Michigan intestate law will apply when you pass away. This means that your property would not necessarily be distributed in accordance with your wishes, but rather state statute. Regardless of your family structure, this can result in consequences you may not have intended.
“If you don’t have a will, the state you live in has one waiting for you,” Danielle explained. “If you want to have control over your decisions, you need to do a will at the very least.”
Married couples might assume that if they don’t have a will, their spouse will inherit all their property when they pass. However, if there are other living descendants, this is not always the case. Under Michigan intestate law, the share your surviving spouse would receive depends upon whether you have children, grandchildren, or a surviving parent. For example, if you have a spouse, a surviving parent, and no children or grandchildren, your spouse would receive the first $150,000 of your estate and 3/4 of the balance, with the remaining going to your parents. If you and your spouse have at least one child or grandchild, your spouse would receive the first $150,000 and half of the balance, with the remaining going to your descendants.
“You can never assume with our court system,” Danielle advised tv viewers. “The court sometimes has different plans for you if you don’t put your wishes in writing.”
Who Needs Estate Planning and How Old Do You Need to Be?
It’s never too soon to start estate planning. Even if you are in perfect health, accidents can happen at any time. The importance of estate planning is not only to distribute your property upon your passing — but also to specify how you would like to have your affairs handled in the event of incapacity. Danielle explained to viewers of WXYZ that estate planning starts at the age of 18 with powers of attorney. Once the age of majority has been reached, parents no longer have authority over the medical care of their children and a child’s medical records are kept confidential.
“If you are in an accident, you don’t want to have to go through the probate court system,” Danielle cautioned. Parents should encourage their children to execute healthcare and financial powers of attorney once they are no longer minors, as well as HIPAA authorizations that can allow parents or another party to access their medical records in the event of an emergency.
What is the Purpose of Making an Estate Plan?
Proper estate planning can help your loved ones avoid going through the stressful, costly, and time-consuming probate process. Complicated probate situations involving celebrities have often been highlighted in the media — and these complicated scenarios should serve as cautionary tales. Danielle, who has co-authored the best-selling book Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights! with her husband, BRMM partner Andy Mayoras, advised that people should take note of the mistakes celebrities have made in their own estate planning and not repeat them.
“We’ve seen a lot of celebrities who have no planning whatsoever, like Prince when he passed away, didn’t even have a simple will,” Danielle said. “No one knew who he wanted to leave his money to.”
With a good estate plan, you can specify the beneficiaries you would like to receive which assets. But, you are not only able to provide for your loved ones — you can also help protect them from your debts, as exemplified with the passing of Lisa Marie Presley.
How to Choose an Estate Planning Attorney
To start the process, it’s vital to work with a good attorney who understands the importance of estate planning and focuses in this area of law. Danielle emphasized that when you’re consulting with an estate planning attorney, it’s important to ask lots of questions. While it doesn’t necessarily matter how long an attorney has been practicing law, their experience in estate planning is paramount. Ask them how long they’ve been specializing in estate planning and what percentage of their practice encompasses this practice area.
An experienced estate planning attorney will understand the rules, regulations, and requirements in your jurisdiction to ensure you have comprehensive and valid documents in place that meet your objectives. They can also help you navigate the process and give you peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out in the future.
Contact an Experienced Michigan Estate Planning Attorney
It’s critical to understand the importance of estate planning to ensure your loved ones are provided for when you pass. The estate planning attorneys at Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras work with clients regarding a wide variety of matters. Schedule a consultation today by calling (248) 213-9514 in Michigan or (941) 222-2199 in Florida to learn how we can assist you. You can also use our simple online contact form.