I’ve had several people ask me, “what is an heir?”  Well, it is better said, “who is an heir?”  Michigan law says that an “heir” is a person who is entitled to inherit according to Michigan law from someone who died without a will or trust (MCL 700.1104(n)).  “Person” is a loose term as it also includes the State of Michigan.  Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy?  If you don’t have anyone who survives you and is entitled to your property according to Michigan law, the property goes to the state!

So why does this matter?  Well, one example is if you have charitable inclinations and would want a charity (or multiple charities) to receive something if you passed away.  Or, at the very least, receive something rather than having it go to the State.  Sorry, it’s not going to happen if you don’t have a will or trust because state law does not list charities as an “heir.”

Or, say you have several children, one of which is financially very well off and does not need to inherit anything from you (or doesn’t want to).  They are still an “heir” if you do not have a will or trust that says otherwise.  Or a relative who has a substance abuse or addiction problem.  Many people feel bad about “disinheriting” someone, and I understand that.  Even saying the word makes it sound mean.  But there are certain situations where it may be desirable, such as the previous examples.

The key here is that a Michigan “heir” really matters to only those folks who have not planned for their family’s protection and well-being if something happened to them.  Here’s the good part – you CAN  say who receives what!  You just have to take the time to meet with an estate planning attorney who take the time to help you put your goals and desires into action.  Sure there is a cost, but what is the alternative…having the State make that determination for you?  To many, that is a far more costly situation as it leaves what happens to your legacy up to the State, not you.

If you want to have your say in your legacy, call us now at 616-827-7596 to schedule your Peace of Mind Planning Session.  Mention this blog post and 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.