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.  

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 58 reviews.
Denica Holzworth
Denica Holzworth
November 9, 2021.
Great to work with! We have a plan through MetLaw through my work and they accept it here. There was only a $25 extra free on top for the materials and binder we received. They follow a COVID process which we appreciated. They were incredibly helpeful and answered all our questions. The in person part took about 1.5 hours- just FYI for planning!
richard hanlon
richard hanlon
September 10, 2021.
Needed to get our estate plan done and they were very responsive, professional and straightforward. Had an urgent situation and they accommodated us. Would definitely recommend.
Jason Carlock
Jason Carlock
July 12, 2021.
Scott and Sarah at the Rochester office were professional and efficient in getting a whole estate plan in place for me. They walked me through every step, coaching me regarding what each document was, how it impacted my estate plan, and finally how all of the documents work together. At the end of the process I now have all the documents I (well, my estate) will need when I pass. Thank you.
Eric W
Eric W
June 1, 2021.
The process for preparing a trust was great. Scott and his team were very clear and explained everything in detail many times over. Highly recommend.
Kim N
Kim N
May 30, 2021.
Beyond satisfied with our experience. Sarah and Scott were extremely helpful through the entire process. Scott took the time to thoroughly explain every aspect of our estate planning making sure we understood it all. We learned so much and are grateful to have the peace of mind that all our affairs are now in order.
David Rizzi
David Rizzi
May 10, 2021.
With great effort and attention to detail Mr Sumner made something so complicated easy to understand and follow in explaining our estate plan. Two thumbs up to Mr Sumner and Sara!
Tom Stroin
Tom Stroin
April 30, 2021.
Scott spent the time and went over every aspect of our Family Trust so it was clear and understandable. The documentation was organized very well in a binder for future reference by all family members.Scott was professional, highly experienced and knowledgeable in designing an optimal Trust under Michigan law.I would highly recommend the Sumner & Associates P.C. law practice.
Jason Coryell
Jason Coryell
April 23, 2021.
Very professional, completely satisfied to walk us through and complete Estate planning. A+!
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.