While no one likes to consider their mortality, advanced planning with a Metro Detroit estate and wills attorney will help your family during a difficult time. Estate planning lets you protect your loved ones, control the distribution of your assets, and direct your end of life care. At Sumner & Associates, we empower our clients through comprehensive estate planning services. We also help their families administer their wills and trusts.
Who Needs an Estate and Wills Attorney?
Many people mistakenly believe that only the very wealthy need an estate attorney. However, almost everyone in Metro Detroit could benefit from a well-prepared estate plan and properly drafted will. When you die, most estates must go through probate – the legal process of identifying your property, debts, tax obligations, and distributing your assets to your heirs.
Unless your estate is very small, probate is typically time intensive and complicated. For this reason, many people use an estate and wills attorney to:
- Create an estate plan with the goal of minimizing or avoiding probate,
- Guide their family through necessary probate proceedings,
- Ensure business continuity (if you are a business owner),
- Designate charitable gifts, and
- Administer their wills and trusts.
At Sumner & Associates, 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).
If you have questions about estate planning or an existing will or trust, contact Sumner & Associates. Unlike some law firms, we pride ourselves on personalized service and estate planning solutions. And, we’ll make sure you fully understand your options.
The Fundamentals of Estate Planning
While nothing compares to the insight and guidance of an experienced estate and wills attorney, you should understand some basic information about the estate planning process.
When you die, you typically must go through probate and pay estate taxes. However, a skilled estate and wills lawyer can help avoid probate court proceedings, minimize estate taxes, and still distribute your assets according to your wishes. Your estate plan will vary, depending on your financial situation, family, and long-term goals. For example, the parents of a young child will have very different goals (such as designating a guardian and caring for the child’s physical and emotional needs) than those of a senior citizen who is concerned about his or her end of life planning and estate tax burden.
Depending on your goals, your estate plan might include:
- Last Will and Testament: a document that explains how your property will be distributed after your death. Administering a will typically requires probate.
- Living (Inter Vivos) Trusts: a revocable trust that benefits you during your lifetime and transfers your assets to your beneficiaries once you die. A living trust can help you avoid probate.
- Guardianship: if you become incapacitated, a trusted person will make decisions for you. You can also designate a guardian for your children.
- Powers of Attorney: allows a trusted person to make certain decisions on your behalf (if you are incapacitated). For example, health care powers of attorney can guide your medical treatment if you are unable to make your own health care decisions.
- Special Needs Trusts: sometimes called a “supplemental needs trust,” it provides financial support for a severely disabled family member or loved one without risking their eligibility for federal and state benefits.
- Testamentary Trusts: a trust established after your death, based on instructions within your will. Typically, testamentary trusts are created for minor children. Unlike a living trust, they do not help you avoid probate.
At Sumner & Associates, we will tailor your estate plan to meet your exact needs. We strive to build lifelong attorney-client relationships. As your needs and Michigan’s probate laws change, we can help you revise your estate plan.
Prepare for Your Future with an Estate and Wills Attorney
If you have questions about estate planning, contact an estate and wills attorney at Sumner & Associates today. Our dedicated team will work with you to protect your interests and meet your long-term goals. Our firm has over 50 years of combined legal experience in the Michigan area, including practice with:
We also offer free initial consultations and flat-rate fees for some services. Call us today for more information, or to request a free case evaluation.