I’m sure you’re wondering, “what are you talking about?  Isn’t it good to leave my estate to my heirs?”  Well . . . not necessarily.  As I mentioned in this earlier post, an “heir” is someone who inherits from you if you do not have a Will or a Trust.  That is, they inherit from you based on what Michigan’s “intestacy laws” say.

Before you assume that is “well and good,” consider these situations:

  • Second marriages – you may be surprised at the amount your children receive (or really what they do not receive).
  • Charitable gifts – if you want to benefit a charity, you better have a Will (or better yet, a Trust), because they are not “heirs.”
  • Special needs child – if receiving governmental assistance is important to their quality of life, too bad, because they are set to get their share outright as an “heir” when they turn 18.
  • A child (or spouse) who is a spendthrift or has substance abuse problems – in these cases one of the worst things you can do is give them a significant sum of money, yet they are entitled to it as an “heir” if you haven’t planned otherwise.

There are many more situations when being an “heir” may not be a good thing.  These are just some of the more common ones I’ve observed.

The great thing is that you can avoid these pitfalls by taking the time to setup an estate plan with a lawyer who focuses in estate planning.  These and many other undesired outcomes can be addressed through careful planning that centers on what is most important to you.  And it can help you leave the family legacy that is important to you.

If you find yourself in any of the situations listed above, call us at 616-827-7596 to schedule a Peace of Mind Planning Session to discover how you can “have your say.”  And if you mention this blog post, we’ll waive the planning session fee ($750 value!).

Michael Lichterman is an estate planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™.  This goes beyond merely planning for finances – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you.  He focuses on planning for  the “experienced” generation, the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, and family owned business succession – and he is privileged to do so from a Christian perspective.  He takes the “counselor” part of attorney and counselor at law very seriously, and enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients – many of which have become great friends.