Wills, Estate Planning & Estate Administration
We understand that planning end of life decisions can be a sensitive and difficult subject for you or your loved ones. Yet, without proper estate planning, you leave the distribution of your money, your property and your other assets completely up to the State.
We have the compassion and the knowledge to help you or your loved ones make these important decisions, in a comfortable and caring environment – so that your final wishes are certain to be carried out in the way you desire.
Whether you only need a simple Will, or you prefer to avoid Probate using Trusts or Joint Ownership, we have the experience to guide you through this process with skill, knowledge and caring.
Last Will and Testament
This is the most “basic” estate planning document. In Michigan, when an individual dies without a Will (or other estate planning documents), the State decides who will get his or her money and property – and even who will have guardianship of his or her minor children!
If an individual dies with a valid Will, then his or her “estate” is administered according to the terms of the Will through the Probate Court, in the county in which he or she had residence at the time of death.
With a Will you can:
- Name the “Personal Representative” who oversees your estate (previously called the executor)
- Name the Guardians of your minor children
- Make specific gifts of your assets, money, real estate and personal property
- Specify inheritance, in the event your heir(s) die before you
- Specify instructions for your burial, cremation or organ donation
Careful estate planning ensures that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes when you are gone. Today, many people put in place a plan that allows their heirs to avoid administration through the Probate Court altogether.
By properly employing living trusts and joint ownership we can help your heirs avoid the long delays and substantial expense of going through Probate. There are also many tax benefits to avoiding Probate, and your Estate will not have to be approved and administered by the Probate Court.
Living or Revocable Trusts
A Living Trust (also called a Revocable Trust) is a document that transfers assets to your heirs while you are still alive. However, you (or someone you appoint) serves as the “trustee” who controls the assets and retains the right to amend (change) the terms of the transfer at any time. By putting your assets into this type of “revocable trust” you avoid probate administration of assets, as well as the substantial associated costs and delays.
Some advantages of Living Trusts include:
- Avoidance of Probate
- Minimizing Federal gift & estate taxes
- Proper management of assets by a trusted person
- Timing or delaying asset distribution until you feel heirs are ready
- Limiting control a surviving spouse has over property
- Making use of charitable gift arrangements
- Providing your beneficiaries with a lifetime income
- Providing your beneficiaries with income over specified periods of time
Property and assets that are “jointly owned” automatically pass to the surviving party upon the other person’s death, and do not have to be administered or transferred through the Probate Court. Joint Ownership is accomplished by changing a deed, a title, or other document of ownership to include both parties.
In many cases this is a very safe and effective way to avoid Probate. However, there can also be certain very substantial risks to joint ownership. If one of the joint-owners has debts or other liabilities, they may be put the other party’s financial interests at risk. Only an experienced estate planning attorney will be able to advise you if joint ownership is in your best personal and financial interests.
If you have lost a loved one, you have our sincere sympathy and condolences. We understand that you need time to grieve. We know that the last thing you need is the worry and frustration of dealing with the Probate court while you come to terms with the loss you are suffering.
The experienced lawyers at Lakeside Legal Group are here to take this burden off of your shoulders – efficiently and affordably. We will handle the complex paperwork of Probate administration so that your loved one’s wishes can be carried out – and their assets distributed – as quickly and easily as possible.
The goal of estate planning is always to avoid any uncertainty, ambiguity or contention when distributing the assets of a loved one. Unfortunately, circumstances occasionally arise where disagreement arises between potential heirs – despite the best of intentions.
In some circumstances, the deceased loved one may not have left a Will or other adequate estate planning documents in place. In other situations, a greedy or uncooperative relative may be trying to get “more than their share”. Whatever the cause of a “fight” over an inheritance, these matters can be very emotionally difficult and financially draining.
When an estate is contested, our firm has the probate experience and the litigation skill to assert your rights, protect your interests and ensure that you are not deprived of your fair inheritance.
Our firm has handled numerous estates, saving our clients money in taxes and probate expenses. Our experienced attorneys can put together a unique estate plan that ensures that your financial needs and personal wishes are met. And, if you have suffered a loss, we can handle the administration process for you at this difficult time, with patience, compassion and skill.
The experienced probate & estate planning lawyers at Lakeside Legal Group have handled hundreds of probate matters. They will offer you compassionate advice & knowledgeable representation at affordable rates, to ensure that your wishes are carried out and your rights are always protected.
For a FREE CONSULTATION with an experienced probate attorney, call Lakeside Legal Group today: 586-469-0900.
Lakside Legal Group is a full service Michigan law firm providing representation in Macomb County, Oakland County, Wayne County and St. Clair County, including: Mt. Clemens, Warren, Sterling Heights, Madison Heights, Eastepointe, Saint Clair Shores, Roseville, Shelby Township, Chesterfield Township, Macomb Township, Grosse Pointe Shores, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe, Clinton Township, Harrison Township, Utica, Romeo, New Baltimore, Algonac, Armada, Port Huron, Imlay City, Rochester, Troy, Hazel Park, Clawson, Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, Pontiac, Beverly Hills, Oak Park, Detroit, Southfield and Royal Oak.