Protecting your hard-earned assets or your family business from IRS taxes or the creditors of your heirs is one of many reasons our clients come to Shinners & Cook. We understand that a proper estate plan needs to address the complexity of your personal and business interests as well those of your children and heirs.
Common reasons people need an estate plan include controlling the distribution of your assets after you die, keeping your affairs private by avoiding probate, protecting assets from the creditors of your children, planning for the day in which you may become incapacitated, and proper estate tax planning. We help ensure our clients that when they pass, the administration of their estate is certain and fair, all while causing a minimum burden on their surviving loved ones.
A Will is a documents that, when standing alone, provides the distribution scheme of the decedent’s assets, nominates the personal representatives to administer the decedent’s estate, and nominates guardians and conservators for minor children. Another way to think of a Will is as letter to the judge explaining the decedent’s final wishes. However, a Will on its own does not avoid the possibility of a hearing before a probate court.
Wills are an essential element for all estate plans, but the Will may function best when paired with additional estate planning. When an estate plan has a Revocable Living Trust for its primary distribution scheme, the Will becomes a safety net. If any assets do not transfer through titling, beneficiary designations, or placing into Trust, the Will then acts as a back-up to make sure that all assets are placed into the Trust.
Every individual should have a personal, financial Power of Attorney that names a trusted person as Attorney-in-Fact)to assist in paying bills and handling personal financial needs in the event of temporary or permanent incapacity. A Power of Attorney can also help avoid to avoid the complications and expenses associated with a formal conservatorship.
A proper Power of Attorney can help avoid the need for a formal conservatorship. While it is obvious that a Power of Attorney is neither as authoritative or formal as a conservatorship, it is significantly less expensive and in most cases is sufficient when a family has done proper planning. Therefore, having a proper Power of Attorney in place may allow a family where a person becomes incapacitated the hassle and expense of a formal court hearing to determine capacity for an appointment of a conservator.
A Trust is another useful tool in establishing an effective estate plan. A Trust is formed when a person (the Settlor) transfers a property interest to a Trustee to hold for the benefit of others (the beneficiaries). Common types of Trust include Revocable Living Trusts and Testamentary Trusts. Shinners & Cook also specializes in Gun Trusts and has developed its own Palooza Trust™ and Postmortempalooza™ Honorary Special Purpose Trust.
A Revocable Living Trust is designed to allow the Settlor to manage their assets as their own while they are living and competent. The first Trustee is typically the Settlor. While the Settlor is alive and competent, the Settlor is free to amend or even revoke the Trust. When the Settlor passes or becomes incompetent, the first named Successor Trustee is appointed as the Trustee.
A Testamentary Trust is not funded until the Death of the Settlor. The Trust’s provisions are contained in a Will. When the Settlor dies, the Personal Representative will then fund the Trust. A major drawback of Testamentary Trusts is these Trusts are established through the probate process. Therefore, you do not avoid the delay, hassle, and lack of privacy often associated with probate proceedings.
Our Firm has developed the exclusive Palooza Trust™ and Postmortempalooza™ for our clients to take advantage of Michigan’s honorary special purpose trust laws in our clients’ end of life planning. The Palooza Trust™ and Postmortempalooza™ may be a component of any well-rounded estate or trust plan. The primary purpose of these trusts is to allow the Settlor to create and plan his or her party or memorial celebration exactly as the Settlor desires. To ensure that the Settlor’s wishes are carried out, the Palooza Trust™ and Postmortempalooza™ provides for the appointment of a Trustee to execute the Settlor’s envisioned end-of-life party or celebration independent of any normal funeral service. The Palooza Trust™ and Postmortempalooza™ also provides for the party or celebration’s funding.
A Gun Trust allows persons to buy, hold, and use firearms and other items which are restricted by the National Firearms Act. The transfer, possession, and sale of such items, can result in federal crimes if not done properly. Establishing a Gun Trust can help ensure compliance with both State and Federal firearm laws.
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