The Big Picture

A Different Approach to Estate Planning

It’s not about the documents; it’s about the results.

The average person has heard about estate planning and some of the documents involved. They come into our office and say:

  • I only need a simple will;
  • I need a living will (which is not a valid document in Michigan);
  • I need an irrevocable trust;
  • I need a ladybird deed;
  • I need to make my kids joint on my house;
  • I need…

How many people tell their doctor or dentist what treatment is needed?

The next inquiry is usually about the cost.  How much will “it” cost me?  The better question is how much will it cost me if I don’t do it, have it done improperly or what is the true value you are giving me?

Many people have heard how a friend has planned to manage their affairs and think that the same sounds good for them.  The problem is those estate plans are not unique for their own situation or may not have even been done correctly for their friend.  If they get what their friend has, they have a false sense of security.  Their plan is destined to fail and their loved ones will be left picking up the pieces

What is a better way?

When you are looking down on your family after you die, will you have left a heartache or a headache.  It is our goal to only leave a heartache.

Focus on them and not on a specific estate planning document.  Consider some of these issues:

  • Do I want my spouse to remarry and give my money to their new family or ensure it will go to my loved ones?
  • Do I want my child’s spouse upon a divorce to have one half of my child’s inheritance?
  • How can I structure my estate plan to help maintain family harmony?
  • How can I structure my estate plan to protect my family?
  • How can I structure my estate plan to avoid my children’s creditors?
  • How can I structure my estate plan to tell my family how I felt about them or what I see them accomplishing?
  • How can I structure my estate plan so my family does not have to go to Probate after I die, unless that is my desire?
  • How can I structure my estate plan to allow me so I can live with dignity if I become disabled, establishing where and how I want to live?
  • How can I structure my estate plan to die how I want to die and not have a probate judge determine that?

These and many more questions should be addressed before any estate plan is created.  You and your family deserve nothing less.

You may spend less money now with someone having a different approach to estate planning but your family will spend much more later and at what cost to their relationships and emotional well-being?

Working with an attorney that limits their practice to estate planning helps to ensure your plan will do what you want it to, when you want it to and protect you and your family.

See the form The Top 10 Mistakes Made in Estate Planning.