Do you want to avoid probate? Have you thought about the effect of lifetime probate, should you suffer from a stroke or dementia? Do you know whether avoiding probate is possible under Michigan law? The attorneys at TULL & LAUBACH, Douglas A. Tull and Andre A. Laubach can help explain your options so that you can choose what is best for your situation.
Avoiding probate is not always the best choice
Sometimes people attempt to avoid probate by means of joint ownership, pay on death accounts and CD’s, annuities, life insurance. These are all potential methods to avoid probate. But they do not always accomplish what you want. Each method of avoiding probate presents its own challenges and potential problems. What if the joint tenant dies? Or has a judgment entered against him or her? What if you desire to distribute your estate equally to children, but your pay on death bank accounts and CD’s are not of equal value on your death? The attorneys at TULL & LAUBACH can advise you in the proper ways to title your assets so as to avoid probate, where it makes sense. He will also discuss why avoiding probate may not always be the best option.
Should you avoid probate?
In Michigan, the process of probate has been simplified. If the proper estate planning tools are in place, an attorney does not have to be as actively involved as he did in the past. Probate does not have to be as expensive as you may have heard. These days, informal probate provides a means to administer an estate and distribute it to intended beneficiaries with far less attorney involvement
Depending on your situation, you might want your estate to go through probate where interested parties have the court to look over the actions of the Personal Representative, to protect the interests of the heirs. Your assets may not be large enough to warrant the cost of a trust. The probate court supervises the administration of an estate – your personal representative (executor/executress) will be required to submit an accounting to the court. Sometimes, having a court look over the shoulders of your personal representative is the best solution to making sure the property in your estate is distributed properly to those you want to benefit.
To learn more about how to avoid probate or if avoiding probate is right for you, contact our office today.
Using a trust to avoid probate and the Federal Estate Tax
Depending on the size of your estate, you and, if you are married, your spouse may be subject to the payment of a federal estate tax (the size of the exemption changes frequently – For persons dying in 2011 and 2012, with estates under $5,000,000 there will be no Federal Estate tax to pay. As it currently stands, that estate tax exemption equivalent (the amount under which an estate will not be subject to a tax) is reduced to $1,000,000 for estate of persons dying on or after January 1, 2013). With the current climate in the US Congress, there is great uncertainty as to whether or to what extent, Congress will extend larger estate tax exemptions beyond 2012. So it is important for persons with estates (personal property, real property, qualified plans and insurance) in excess of $1,000,000 to work closely with an estate planning attorney to make sure that they are positioned to avoid an estate tax upon their death. For such people, a Revocable Living Trust might be a good asset protection strategy. At TULL & LAUBACH, Attorneys at Law, the attorneys not only advise theirs clients and draft their estate plans and trusts, but they also oversee the funding of the trusts and retitling of real estate — a process often overlooked.
Avoiding lifetime probate
If you become incapacitated, the probate court will appoint a conservator or guardian to make decisions for you. Guardianships and conservatorships can be very expensive and the cost will come out of your estate. You may avoid this lifetime probate expense by having a durable power of attorney (POA) and patient advocate designation (living will) in place.
Post-death probate avoidance
The cost of probate after death can be minimized or avoided, preserving your assets for your heirs.
Contact our office
If you would like speak with a lawyer about estate planning to avoid probate or have any other questions, please call locally at 586-726-5742, or toll-free at 1-866-TULL-LAW (885-5529), or e-mail our firm. Doug or Andre will consult with you, analyze your estate, recommend and prepare an estate plan to address your personal concerns and needs. We also handle probate and estate administration.
Our office is conveniently located in the heart of Utica, Michigan, at the southwest corner of Hall Road (M-59) and Van Dyke Avenue. (Map and directions) Evening or weekend hours are available by appointment. Home visits are available for the elderly and those with special needs. Credit cards accepted.