When thinking about Estate Planning, there are two things to consider:
“Planning for now” and “Planning for later”.
Planning for Now
Planning for Now usually consists of 3 documents: Durable Power of Attorney, Patient Advocate Designation, and Privacy Waiver. These documents are only used during your lifetime. You can appoint someone to take care of your personal business, someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, and also who can receive information about you from medical personnel.
What if you don’t “Plan for now”?
If you don’t have a Durable Power of Attorney and/or a Designation of Patient Advocate and you become unable to care for yourself, it may become necessary for a family member or other individual to file a petition with Probate Court to request appointment as your legal guardian and/or conservator.
Planning for Later
Planning for Later is making decisions about who will receive the assets you own after you’re gone. If you have minor children, you must also decide who would be their legal guardian. There are many options to consider, and everyone’s plan is different. Planning generally includes some combination of Wills, Trusts, deeds, and beneficiary designations.
What if you don’t “Plan for later”?
If you don’t have a plan for what happens to your assets after you’re gone, the State of Michigan has written a plan for you. A probate process will ensure that your assets will be transferred to your heirs. The order of those who may receive your assets are spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc.