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Make Estate Planning Your 2012 New Year’s Resolution
I know what you're probably thinking - getting your estate planning done as part of your New Year's resolution doesn't sound like any fun, and it's not exactly something you can show off like dropping 30 pounds. However, it is considerably easier than losing weight, takes less time, and when it's done it stays "done" until it needs updating, unlike those pesky pounds that tend to creep back on! I have written about the importance of estate planning before, so I will just give the top three reasons why you need to get it done in this article:
1. Take care of your family
One of the most important things a well drafted estate plan can do for you is take care of the ones you leave behind. Whether it is for your minor or special needs children who need a guardian and/or conservator, or your family pet that you don’t want taken to the pound, it is important to make your wishes known and legally enforceable.
2. Ensure your assets go where you want them to go:
Maybe you do not have children or siblings, or you do but do not wish to leave your assets to them, you can distribute your assets elsewhere through your estate planning documents. For example, you can leave your assets to a charity, family friend, or significant other. If you die without a Will, Michigan law states that your spouse is automatically distributed a certain amount from your estate, next your children will get a share (or your parents if you have no children), and then more remote descendant (such as siblings, nieces, nephews, grandparents) could get a share. If no one is legally able to take your estate, it goes to the State of Michigan.
3. Save money:
Going through the probate court can take a lot of time, and can cost a lot of money in court fees and costs, and attorney fees. While you won't be around to have to worry about it, wouldn't you rather spend a little money now to save a lot of your money later? I say save "your" money later, because these expenses can be paid for out of your estate. Make a New Year's resolution that is easy to keep and set up an appointment with an estate planning attorney today.
(Editor's Note: Attorney Jessica DesNoyers authored this post while working in Varnum's Grand Haven office. Jessica is currently with another firm.)