July 22, 2019

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Estate Planning in Michigan

Detroit Estate Planning Law Firms

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Anyone can help their loved ones and heirs, and even themselves, but utilizing estate planning. The law of estate planning in Michigan ensures that your wishes are followed when you die or if you become incapacitated, and it minimizes difficulties and expense for your loved ones.

If You Die Without a Will

If you do not have a will when you die, it is called dying intestate. Your property and assets are distributed according to Michigan intestate succession laws, which may not be in accordance with your wishes.

A will not only directs how your property will be distributed, it can designated who will care for your minor children, and much more.


With or without a will, your estate will go through probate, unless you make other provisions before you die. Probate is a lengthy legal process, which can be very costly and stressful for your loved ones. Probate can keep your property and assets tied up for months or even years.

However, there are several devices you can set up while you are still alive to keep all of your estate or portions of your estate out of probate so that it passes immediately or very quickly to the beneficiaries of your choice.

Revocable Living Trust

Property can be placed in a revocable living trust which allows you to maintain control over the property, but keeps it out of probate when you die.

Pet Trust

Pet trusts ensure that your pets receive the same level of care when you die, as they do today, and that their care is not interrupted. You can use a pet trust to:

  • Designate who will care for your pets

  • Direct exactly how they will be cared for, including their daily activities, living conditions, health care, and diet

  • Designate a trustee who makes sure that the person caring for your pets is doing so adequately and according to your wishes

  • Allocate funds for the care of your pet

  • Determine who will receive any funds leftover when your pet passes away

Other Ways to Avoid Probate

Property held jointly either as “joint tenants with rights of survivorship” or “tenancy by the entireties” passes directly to the survivor who also holds the property.

Certain accounts and other types of benefits can be designated as transferable upon death or with named beneficiaries, so that it does not have to go through probate.

There are also other types of trusts that you can create to keep your property and assets out of probate and ensure that they go directly to the beneficiaries you choose.

Your Detroit estate planning attorney can help you determine which methods will be the most beneficial and least costly to your loved ones.

Powers of Attorney

You should also create powers of attorney designating who will make medical and financial decisions while you are alive, if you become incapacitated. You can create specific instructions, such as whether you wish to be on life support, so that your loved ones do not have to make these decisions for you.