Flint and Grand Blanc Estate Planning Attorney
Are you a Flint or Grand Blanc area resident who needs an attorney to draft a will or trust, or to guide you through the probate process? Here is a basic overview of what our lawyers can do for you. If you have more questions, contact our Grand Blanc office at (810) 513-5315 for a free consultation.
A will is a legal document that directs the probate court how to distribute your assets upon your death, and gives authority to a designated personal representative to execute your wishes. If you die without a valid will, then your assets are distributed by the court to your family members according to a preset formula that you and your family have no control over. Even if you are married, dying without a will follows this formula and can lead to your surviving spouse only receiving a portion of your estate. This inflexibility can lead to your assets being distributed to individuals that you do not want to receive anything.
We can create a will for you that will force the probate court to adhere to your wishes. If you have relatively modest assets and your own home, a will is best supplemented by creating a "ladybird deed" that allows you to pass your home outside of the probate process. If you are in the Flint area, don't let the government decide how your assets will be distributed. Take control over you and your family's financial future by contacting us to create a will for you.
While a will allows you to direct who will receive benefits upon your death, a will must still be probated in court, which can hold up distribution of the assets indefinitely. Furthermore, going through the probate process leads to court fees being charged on your estate, not to mention the legal fees that will accrue in hiring an attorney to oversee the disposition of your estate.
Creating a trust in conjunction with a will offers individuals greater flexibility in how to manage their assets. Placing your assets into a revocable living trust usually allows your assets to be distributed outside of the probate process. Because of this, trusts remain private documents and are not subject to inspection by the public. There are other benefits to creating trusts. For example, a trust can be created that does not give your beneficiaries anything until they reach a designated age. Furthermore, transferring your assets to a revocable living trust allows you to retain exclusive control over your trust until your death or incapacitation, meaning you can always change your trust as you desire.
If you are in the Flint area and wish to avoid the probate process for your family, contact us to create a specifically tailored trust that gives you control over you and your family's future.
Powers of Attorney/HIPAA Releases
While wills and trusts are used to direct the distribution of your assets upon your death, what happens if you are alive but become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself? Without planning, your family may have to go to court to receive permission to make decisions on your behalf.
A medical power of attorney (also known as a patient advocate) allows you to designate an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. A medical power of attorney also places in writing what your treatment should be regarding end of the life decisions and long-term unconsciousnesss. In addition to a medical power of attorney, a HIPAA release allows doctors to release your medical records to your patient advocate. Without a HIPAA release, federal law forbids the disclosure of your records.
A durable power of attorney allows you to designate an individual to make decisions on your behalf for actions as the selling of property, borrowing money, conducting business, banking, and other financial decisions as designated. This is especially important for married persons, as selling jointly owned marital property without a durable power of attorney in place would require going to court to receive permission to sell the property. If you are in the Flint area, contact our office to ensure your legal and medical directives are followed according to your wishes.
Rather than charge by the hour for routine estate planning tasks. our law firm offers a flat fixed fee system. If you have more complex estate planning needs. we are happy to assist you at the standard firm rate of $150 per hour. Contact our Grand Blanc office so we can evaluate what your estate planning needs are.
Complete Package of Will, Trust, Powers of Attorney - $850 for married couple, $725 for single individual (savings of $100 and $50, respectively)
Wills - $200 per person/$300 per married couple
Trusts - $500 (for standard revocable living trusts; excludes more complicated estate planning)
Powers of Attorney/HIPAA Releases - $75 per person
"Ladybird Deeds" (for use in conjunction with wills with no trust) - $75 per deed (plus county Register of Deeds filing fee)
If you are the Flint area family member of an individual who died without having all of their assets either placed into a trust or jointly owned with another, you know that the probate process can be a long and intimidating one. Fortunately, we can guide you through all steps of the probate process. This will involve many steps, including filing a petition for the appointment of a personal representative, providing notice to creditors and interested parties, filing final tax returns, and ultimately distributing assets to heirs and beneficiaries.