I imagine there are some people who think I write about the importance of Michigan estate planning so much out of self interest. I am, after all, a Grand Rapids, Mi estate planning attorney, right? So I can understand why they may think that. However, the truth is that I write about it because it is critically important to families and their legacies, and because I see the “ugly” side of not planning. Which is what led me to write this post.
Ok, first a little background. The vast majority of Americans have no estate plan. Last I heard it was less than 40%. Yes, you read that right . . . less than 40% of adult Americans have legally documented who they want to handle their “estate” and how they want it handled if they pass away. And even worse, they also haven’t legally documented who would handle their finances if they weren’t able to (financial power of attorney) or who would make their medical decisions if they weren’t able to (healthcare power of attorney).
Well, if you pass away without an estate plan, the State of Michigan has a plan for you. It’s referred to as the “intestacy laws.” For purpose of this e-newsletter, intestacy means someone who passes away without an estate plan. Well, I don’t know about you, but “one size fits all” clothes tend not to fit me. And as much at the state legislature tries to guess what families would want to happen when they pass away, the don’t know your individual circumstances, goals or desires.
And there are some rather harrowing real life stories about what can happen. I gave a few, brief examples in this previous post. And I just read a blog post by an attorney friend of mine, Rania Combs, about just such a real life situation. Rather than rehash the entire thing here, I encourage you to read her blog post by clicking here. I promise that it will be very eye opening.
Although she practices law in Texas, very similar situations happen all the time right here in Michigan. So please, take the time to this post with someone you know who may not have an estate plan, but for whom you care deeply. Families need to know that things like this happen in real life.
Michael Lichterman is an estate planning and charitable 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 “stuff” – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you. He focuses on estate, charitable, and asset protection planning for all generations (“young” and “experienced”), the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses, and pet planning. He enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients centered on their family’s values, insights, stories and experiences.