It is not uncommon for relatives to want to adopt a child related to them, whether it is a grandchild, niece, nephew, or cousin. Our law firm has assisted countless families in this type of adoption.
A: Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during a person’s life. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. However, the ultimate goal of estate plan is determined by the specific goals of the client and may be as simple or complex as the client’s needs dictate. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in incapacity.
A: This is something that cannot be answered easily and should be discussed with an attorney. However, if you die and do not have a Will, your property will be distributed through the Probate Court by a Judge after a case is established in accordance with Michigan law.
A: Many are under the mistaken impression that their spouse or adult children can automatically take over for them in case they become incapacitated. The truth is that in order for others to be able to manage your finances, they must petition a court to declare you legally incompetent. This process can be lengthy, costly and stressful. Even if the court appoints the person you would have chosen, they may have to come back to the court every year and show how they are spending and investing each and every penny. If you want your family to be able to immediately take over for you, you must designate a person or persons that you trust in proper legal documents so that they will have the authority to withdraw money from your accounts, pay bills, take distributions from your IRAs, sell stocks, and refinance your home. A will does not take effect until you die and a power of attorney may be insufficient.
A: It is important that your estate plan address issues regarding the upbringing of your children. If your children are young, you may want to consider implementing a plan that will allow your surviving spouse to devote more attention to your children, without the burden of work obligations. You may also want to provide for special counseling and resources for your spouse if you believe they lack the experience or ability to handle financial and legal matters. You should also discuss with your attorney the possibility of both you and your spouse dying simultaneously, or within a short duration of time. A contingency plan should provide for persons you’d like to manage your assets as well as the guardian you’d like to nominate for the upbringing of your children. The person, or trustee in charge of the finances need not be the same person as the guardian. In fact, in many situations, you may want to purposely designate different persons to maintain a system of checks and balances. Otherwise, the decision as to who will manage your finances and raise your children will be left to a court of law. Even if you are lucky enough to have the person or persons you would have wanted selected by the court, they may have undue burdens and restrictions placed on them by the court, such as having to provide annual accounting.
A: A Power of Attorney is a legal document where one person gives another person authorization to act on his/her behalf, usually concerning financial decisions. This is usually included in an Estate Planning package and can be made effective upon disability or incapacitation.
A: A Health Care Directive is a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for health care decisions if he/she is unable to make these types of decisions on his/her own due to illness or incapacitation. A Living Will or Power of Attorney for Health Care is a legal document in which a person elects someone to make decisions on their behalf concerning their health care if he/she is unable to make these types of decisions on his/her own due to illness or incapacitation.
A: A living trust (sometimes called an “inter vivos” or “revocable” trust) is a written legal document through which your assets are placed into a trust for your benefit during your lifetime and then transferred to designated beneficiaries at your death by your chosen representative, called a “successor trustee.”