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Estate Planning


At Varnum, we believe that each person has a vision for life and the legacy he or she will leave behind. The vision changes and matures, but at any one time it is expressed as an objective or goals for the future. It often includes an element of financial well being, perhaps centered around the need to preserve, manage and transfer acquired wealth. The vision may include a desire to assist family members and other loved ones to enable them to achieve their potential and their own vision. People also look to give back to the community that helped them succeed through charitable giving.

The Estate Planning Services offered by Varnum provide a unique opportunity to share the hopes and expectations that make up your vision for the future.

For more information, please contact either your Varnum attorney, or Chris Caldwell at 616/336-6951 or

Partner with Your Attorney

Through confidential discussions, you are able to explore opportunities and ideas. The emphasis is on building a relationship between you and your attorneya partnership that may be relied upon long after the vision has been set down in writing. You and your attorney will spend time discussing your estate plan objectives and dealing with important issues such as:

  • Establishing a plan to accomplish your personal and financial objectives
  • Providing financial security for your family and assuring that dependents are cared for
  • Reducing the tax burden on your survivors by taking advantage of opportunities
  • Avoiding probate
  • Establishing a succession plan for a family business
  • Establishing a succession plan for a family cottage
  • Exploring options for charitable giving

Service and Experience

As one of the largest estate planning practices in the state, we will ensure that you receive attentive, timely and committed personal service. Our knowledge of the most sophisticated tax and planning techniques permits us to offer a broad range of services to fit your needs, ranging from the simplest plans to the most complex:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Durable powers of attorney
  • Living wills and patient advocate designations
  • Gift planning
  • Succession planning for closely held companies
  • Succession planning for family cottages
  • Retirement distribution planning and IRAs
  • Charitable giving
  • Private foundations
  • Guardianships and conservatorships
  • Marital agreements


Death and taxes are notorious as two things in life we can count on. In fact, the estate tax includes some of the highest tax rates we face today. Through technology and continuing legal education, our attorneys maintain their position as strong leaders in the field of estate planning. We work continuously to ensure that you have an opportunity to explore the most creative and effective techniques in use today to achieve your vision:

  • Generation skipping trusts
  • Irrevocable life insurance trusts
  • Charitable trusts
  • Qualified personal residence trusts
  • Grantor retained annuity trusts
  • Planning for retirement
  • Family limited liability companies and partnerships

Whatever your estate planning needs, our attorneys are committed to providing you the appropriate plan for your needs. We know this means more than just the right documents. We provide summaries, analyses and visual graphics to help illustrate the plan your technical legal documents create.

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