Wills, Estates, and Trusts
Exceptional Estate Planning Legal Services
Estate Planning legal issues are complex and nuanced.
It is essential for all people, looking to plan for their future and beyond, to retain a trusted and knowledgeable advisor to ensure their estate unfolds in a manner they intend.
Our estate planning attorneys will provide you with the insight and advice to accurately represent your true intentions.
We work with estate planning attorneys to plan business succession.
We strive to provide practical solutions to estate planning.
Wills, revocable living trusts and powers of attorney.
We help our clients with compassion, care, and experience.
The estate planning attorneys at Zamzow Fabian PLLC guide clients through their plans for the future.
Every person over 18, that wants certain property to be disposed of in any method, should have a will.
Our attorneys ensure to the best of their ability that all corners are squared and backdoors are closed.
MCL 700.2101 - 700.2114 (intestate succession) governs in the absence of a will, or if the will is denied probate (because of error), or if the will is incomplete.
In addition, the omitted spousal or child statutes and elective share statutes, are invoked where the will you drafted may be ignored.
It is essential to hire an attorney so that your loved ones know your intentions, the State of Michigan knows your intentions, and anyone else who may want to contest your will wont be left scratching their heads.
Wills are all subject to public viewable court documents, so those people with trusts will want to design their will to be a pour-over catch all.
Read about Drafting a will in Michigan.
A trust is a fiduciary relationship where a responsible individual (trustee) holds title to designated property to manage for the benefit of beneficiaries.
Trusts, testamentary or inter vivos are often created simply for taxation purposes.
Michigan regulates all charitable and non-charitable inter vivos trusts, and most testamentary trusts through the enactment (on April 1, 2010) of the Michigan Uniform Trust Code (MCL 700.8204, 700.8206).
The Michigan Uniform Trust Code does not regulate constructive trusts, business trusts, or resulting trusts. (MCL 700.1107, 700.7102).
Certain provisions are mandatory (example: formation, good faith, lawfulness, court and judicial power, spendthrift, and exculpation), and some may be "waivable".
The Michigan Uniform Trust Code helps facilitate transactions between third parties and trustees.
It offers procedure for due diligence and establishes reliable trustee representations to third parties.
And the most appealing aspect (next to taxes) of a trust, is the privacy established by largely avoiding probate.
Trusts allow for nearly total anonymity, and a pourover will pushes the remainder of your assets through.
A effectively established trust will best ensure that assets go to its intended recipients in an efficient manner.
Charitable Trust and Noncharitable Trusts
Charitable Trusts are those that are for the benefit of science, education, health, religion, or other similar organizations; and explicitly must not be for the benefit of identifiable individuals.
Charitable trusts are uniquely exempt from rules against perpetuities.
Private trusts include everything that is not charitable.
Inter Vivos Trusts / Living Trusts
Is a method of estate planning whereby the trustor creates the trust during his or her own lifetime.
The secondary name for inter vivos trust is living trust.
Living trusts or Inter Vivos trusts have an existence set at the time of creation and serve as a method of asset distribution to beneficiaries in a fashion the trustor has decided.
The opposite of an inter-vivos trust is a testamentary trust, which goes into effect upon the death of the trustor.
Unlike an inter-vivos trust, a testamentary trust is structured during the life of the trustor, but does not go into effect until the death of the trustor.
Effectively it is the closest alternative to a traditional last will and testament.
Advance Directives - Living Wills
Advance directives allow individuals to describe within reason their requested near end-of-life care and property plans, through legal documents, assigning a proxy.
They provide the individual a way to tell their wishes to family, friends, health care professionals, and anyone else that might assert their will against yours.
It also has the straightforward benefit of avoiding confusion about the true wishes of the individual.
Where as a will or a trust generally defines what happens to property upon the death of an individual, an advance directive, drafted as a power of attorney generally defines what should happen during the life of the person in the event of incapacity.
Many professionals are beginning to call these devices a living will.
Medical Power of Attorney
We recommend a medical power of attorney with every estate plan.
Generally we advise our clients to consult with their religious and/or spiritual leader, their trusted health-care professional, and family before committing to a document that they can rely on to accurately represent their wishes in the case of incapacity.
In Michigan it is highly advisable simply because the default rule is, if life saving methods may be taken they must be taken.
Leaving some incapacitated patients in a vegetative coma.
Property Power of Attorney
Similar to a medical power of attorney, the property or asset power of attorney advance directive dictates what should happen, in the case of incapacity, to the property and assets owned by the incapacitated person.
It is a document that many individuals have no need for, but it is something to consider for medium sized estates, or those people who have rental property, that need the property managed while they are incapacitated.
Trusts may be established to avoid the need or usefulness of this document.
To fully execute the wishes of a decedent, the will (pour-over or traditional) must go through the court.
The will sets out to whom and how the assets of the decedent will be distributed, probate facilitates this process through court action.
Occasionally this process can be lengthy, costly and will expose a family's private financial matters to the public; this is greatly minimized if a trust is established.
Trustee, Settlor, & Beneficiaries
Executing the wishes of an individual who created a trust (settlor / grantor) can occasionally require guidance and peace of mind and assistance from a professional.
Some useful professionals to consider to act as this guide (trustee) are attorneys, counselors, accountants, and financial planners; closely held trusts should be managed by a known trustee and not by an outsourced trustee of a professional.
Beneficiaries occasionally need a professional to advocate for their own rights and to better understand their rights under the trust.
A strong financial understanding of one's wealth and assets is essential to a well planned estate.
This requires professionals who are capable of anticipating your needs in the present and your family's needs for the future.
Our team of estate planning attorneys have a deep understanding of personal and business financials, and use this information to stitch together a complete picture of our client's estate.
We strive to accurately represent the wishes of our clients through the financial lens we craft together.