Estate Planning Attorney in Novi

Our estate planning attorneys in Novi, Michigan have over 40 years of experience in creating estate plans. We have successfully assisted hundreds of clients with estate plans. Now may be the time to contact our Michigan Estate Planning attorney if you’re looking to update your estate plan, will or trust.

If you have questions about estate planning or an existing will or trust, contact our Novi office. Unlike some law firms, we pride ourselves on personalized service and estate planning solutions. And we’ll make sure you fully understand your options.  

Call us today at (248) 650-0055 to find out how our Novi lawyers can help you.

estate planning attorney novi

At Sumner & Associates, P.C., our estate and wills attorneys handle a wide variety of issues, including:

  • Comprehensive estate planning,
  • Drafting wills and trust documents,
  • Estate and trust administration,
  • Guardianships and conservatorships,
  • Powers of Attorney,
  • Probate proceedings, and
  • Special needs planning (if you or a loved one have serious disabilities).
With Avvo listing over 98 5-star reviews, please contact us and you’ll experience our “Excellence in Service” first hand!

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Based on 80 reviews
Carol Zachrich
Carol Zachrich
July 25, 2023.
Great experience! This team has the estate planning process down to a science. Very efficient, timely and responsive. Appreciate their expertise and demeanor. Highly recommend!
Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee
June 23, 2023.
This is where you want to go for wills, trusts, or family estate planning. It was quick, thorough, organized, and pleasant. I only wish I could give them a 6th star.
Tony Parrish
Tony Parrish
June 19, 2023.
In August of 2022, Sumner & Associates helped us with Estate Planning for my husband and I. We were impressed that they didn't blink an eye when asked by an LGBTQ couple. Important that I mention this for others looking for good representation. The team was thorough and provided good tips based on the law. Thank you Scott, Sarah, and Rori!
eric bentley
eric bentley
June 17, 2023.
Highly recommended! They were very easy to work with and very informative about all our questions. The entire process went smoothly.
Nitin Shah
Nitin Shah
May 10, 2023.
This office is awesome and I really the way their process and they explained me the step by step process to go for will documentation. When we visited the office to sign final document it was very transparent and clear process and was done quickly. Thanks to Sarah for coordinating and communicating each and every steps clearly and timely.
Edward Sezniak
Edward Sezniak
March 13, 2023.
Will and Trust. Service was very well organized and guided us through the writing of a will and establishment of a trust. We also established durable power of attorney and advanced health care directives. The purpose and function of each device was clearly explained along with the roles and responsibilities of the different participants. Competitively and fairly priced.
Marilyn Sezniak
Marilyn Sezniak
March 12, 2023.
Their reference materials did a good job of explaining the difference between a Will and a Trust. The process had steps that demonstrated progression toward completion of the documents and status was communicated along the way. Sara and Scott were thorough, friendly and answered all of our questions. The final documents are organized in a binder that has a very professional appearance. I highly recommend Sumner & Associates.
Dave Kishimoto
Dave Kishimoto
January 5, 2023.
Always detailed & accurate and takes the time to explain. Updates were quick and easy.
Linda Toussaint
Linda Toussaint
January 3, 2023.
We were very impressed with the attention to details while preparing our trust. I would highly recommend Mr. Sumner and his staff are professional and curious.
Jason Kim
Jason Kim
January 2, 2023.
Wife and I went to get our will and trust made. The staff was very polite. Scott was very thorough and informative with everything. Made the process smooth and easy!
Estate planning attorney Novi

How long does it take to establish a living trust estate plan?

A typical process from the talking with an attorney in the original planning meeting to finalizing your living trust estate plan should take 4-6 weeks, or less. The living trust is not established until it is properly signed by the person making the trust.

What can I expect when I start the estate planning process with an attorney?

A planning process in an efficient and well-run estate planning practice should consist of a pre-meeting intake form to detail your specific information such as your names, address, contact information, family, and asset information. Next, is a meeting with an estate planning attorney to discuss, provide advice and establishing an outline for client’s estate plan documents. The attorney you meet with on phone, zoom or in person will ask all the necessary questions and gather all the right information needed to prepare an outline of your estate plan. This outline includes the names of people or institutions you will name as your fiduciaries and beneficiaries. Post meeting follow up with office will include– signing a written retainer agreement that spells out exactly what will be provided and at what fees. Then you will need to update your assets list if you have not provided the details in your intake. The hardest part of client homework is finding and providing a copy of the house deed. Your attorney will need the deed to your house, to gather accurate information to prepare another deed, to point your house into your Living trust. Document review at time of signing– Depending your retainer arrangement, you may be provided the opportunity to review documents prior to the execution. However, most document reviews take place the time the document are signed in the attorney’s office. This maintains efficiency and certainty of clients understanding and intent, at time of signing. Execution of your Estate Planning Documents in our office and how that looks– When the time comes to sign all the estate planning documents prepared for you, there will be an “execution ceremony” scheduled. Don’t worry, no one will get shot, but your documents will be legally executed before proper witness and notary laws. Your attorney will sit with you and go through each document as they are signed and explain “what is happening” and “who is involved” in each document, as you sign. After all the documents are properly executed and client questions are answered, we move onto the Funding & Beneficiary Coordination meeting.  During this time our attorney sits with the client and reviews and discusses that proper ways to fund the living trust and how to coordinate the beneficiary designation of retirement accounts and life insurance beneficiaries. Our office even provides a custom information sheet for client’s future use in identifying how to title assets and name beneficiaries on accounts, in the future.  

How to fund your living trust?

Once a Revocable Living Trust has been established, it needs to be funded. Funding means that assets need to be retitled into the name of the trust. I suggest this metaphor to my clients: Think of your trust as a big box I got from CostCo and set it upon the conference room table. Then, you get out a Sharpie marker and write on the side of the box, who will manage the assets in the box upon your death and who the beneficiaries will be. Once you write the names on the side of the box, you sign your name to it. Now, when you pass, this box gets pushed across the table to your successors to distribute your assets, but they find nothing in the box. The reason there is nothing in the box, is because you died with all your assets in your name. You did not transfer assets from your name into the box. Your Revocable Living Trust needs to be funded with assets during your lifetime, so these assets will not be in your name when you pass. By retitling assets during your lifetime, into your living trust, these assets will be able to avoid the delays and cost of Probate Court. If assets are retitled into the trust before the trust maker passes, these assets will avoid probate. However, if the trust maker fails to transfer assets into the trust during his/her lifetime, then those assets may be subject to the probate process.

What type of assets would typically be used to fund the trust?

Typically, your living trust would be funded with certain classes of assets that are not “deferred assets”. For example, retirement accounts are deferred tax assets and are not used to fund a trust. Life insurance death benefits are deferred and not attainable during a person’s lifetime. Assets that would be funded into a Revocable Living Trust, immediately upon being established are:
  • Real Estate.
  • Bank Accounts, Credit Union Accounts, Certificates of Deposit, Money Market Accounts.
  • Investment & Brokerage Accounts (non-retirement stocks, mutual funds, bond funds.)
  Assets that would not immediately be funded into the trust are, deferred assets, such as:
  • Retirement accounts- 401k, 403b, IRA’s, ROTH IRA and all deferred retirement accounts.
  • Annuities and Pensions.
  • Life Insurance.
  • (Although it is not a deferred asset, vehicles do not go into the trust. This is for liability purposes.)

How do I coordinate beneficiaries on my retirement accounts and life insurance with my trust?

Assets that are not immediately funded to the Revocable Living Trust need to have beneficiary designations coordinated with their intent. Typically, this means designation beneficiaries as the Living Trust or individual beneficiaries of the trust, outright. However, beneficiary coordination can be customized to fit each unique case. Sometime, retirement and life insurance beneficiary designations can be modified to protect a current spouse or children from a previous relationship. Coordinating trust beneficiaries should be done immediately after establishing your Revocable Living Trust.