Figuring out how to handle an estate is crucial for most adults in Michigan. Many people hesitate to talk about death with their family members. However, estate planning can make it easier for family members after their loved one passes away and can help to protect them.

When estate planning should happen

All adults can benefit from creating estate plans. Young people might want to have powers of attorney, advance directives, and living wills in place so that their family members can make important medical and financial decisions for them if they become incapacitated in an accident or from an unexpected illness. Adults of all ages should consider creating or reviewing estate plans whenever major changes happen in their lives. Some examples of the types of major life changes that should lead to estate planning include the following:

• Birth or adoption of a new child
• Births of grandchildren
• Getting married
• Getting divorced
• Getting remarried with a blended family
• Receiving an inheritance
• Death of a spouse or child
• Increase in net worth
• Tax law changes
• Starting or selling a business

People who have estate plans should review and modify them when these types of events occur.

Creating an estate plan

Before people create an estate plan, they should first familiarize themselves with the various types of documents and how they work. People should determine the objectives that they want to achieve, choose executors, attorneys-in-fact, or trustees to handle various tasks, and review their life insurance policies and retirement accounts.

After identifying the goals that you would like to achieve with your estate plan, getting help from an experienced estate planning attorney may be a good idea. A lawyer might help you to determine which estate planning documents will best help you to accomplish your objectives. In some cases, it may be possible to avoid the probate process so that the assets may be transferred to the intended beneficiaries outside of court. Estate planning might also allow you to determine the types of care you want to receive at the end of your life and who will be able to make decisions for you if you are incapacitated.