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“I have been pleased with the way [Cheryl Chadwick] handled my case. She treated me very fairly, explained everything very well and was willing to do extra to put me at ease about the situation. I’m very grateful.”
“Pat Duff has always been a trusted friend when addressing our legal issues for our family. A class act all the way!”
“We are very happy with Tom Chadwick and the work he has done for us. We refer all of our friend to him ”
“Pat [Duff] is the best. He goes over and above what he has to in order to help his clients. He gives clear advice on the case and he is not only the best lawyer I’ve ever had, he is a friend. Thanks Pat.”
“Tom [Chadwick] assisted us in will preparation and revising previous documents. We were pleased with the amount of time Tom took in explanation of terms and processes. He was very thorough in his explanations and helped us clearly understand what our documents meant. We would definitely work with Tom in the future and are comfortable with referring him to our family and friends for services.”
“Mr. Duff prepared our will and made the entire experience as easy and quick as it could be. He did an excellent job explaining the many scenarios so that we could make an informed decision. We certainly appreciate all his help and his assistant is also wonderful. She was a pleasure to work with.”
“Tom [Chadwick] was great. He explained everything in a way that was easy to understand. He answered all our questions clear and concise. He was very professional but did so on a personal level.”
“It was truly a pleasure! Professional, personable and detail oriented. Asking all the right questions to assure our work would be completed in full and with accuracy.” Patrick Lorvo
“I received the help I needed from Tom Chadwick to fill out my Power of Attorney. He explained it in a language I could understand and went over any questions I had.” Jane Riker
“Cheryl Chadwick is always to the point. If I did not understand something she would take the time to explain it to me. She never hurried me at an appointment. She was thorough with what I needed to give her. She is people friendly! And she smiled a lot! I never felt like she held me beneath her.”
“Mr. Duff handled my Mother’s estate. He answered all of our questions and was very helpful. The office staff was very good also. Thanks very much.”
Seniors are often recipients of literature or solicitors advising them of the need to have certain estate documents. A common sales slogan stresses the need for a Revocable Trust to avoid Probate. Generally speaking, Probate is the process where an individual who has passed away has an estate opened in the Probate Court. The court appoints a person known as a personal representative to administer the estate which includes compiling an inventory and paying for expenses. To avoid Probate, the deceased must have died with no titled assets in their name only or with a very small estate. Seniors, like all others, should be aware and sometimes wary of such solicitations. First consult with family and loved ones and then, if need be, a lawyer.
This document contains a brief overview of four basic documents to consider in a basic estate plan: Will, Trust, Financial Power of Attorney, and Healthcare Power of Attorney. Anyone of these documents may be helpful and at times, essential.
Will – A will is a personal document whereby an individual (testator) provides a set of instructions to be followed regarding that individual’s estate once the individual passes away. Typically within the will, the testator identifies themselves by indicating where they live, their date of birth, and their family if they have any family. The testator also designates a person or entity to handle their estate, referred to as a personal representative. The testator then may make specific gifts (bequest) to individual and/or entities (beneficiaries) and then provide whatever is left over (residue) to go to the beneficiaries. Other specific language may provide for when the beneficiaries are to receive their bequest, to exclude certain beneficiaries from receiving a bequest, payment of expenses, tax matters and the like.
A will does not avoid Probate and is effective once admitted to the Probate Court after the death of the testator. It can be amended (codicil). If an individual has no will and an estate needs to be opened at the Probate Court, if there are assets or other issues pertaining to the deceased, the Court has a procedure known as an intestate procedure which will be followed according to Michigan law.
Trust – The common forms of trusts used in an estate plan are a revocable living trust or irrevocable living trust whereby an individual or individuals, while alive enter(s) into a contract as a grantor or settlor with another known as a grantee or trustee. The grantor/settlor and grantee/trustee may be the same individual.
The primary purpose of the standard trust is to transfer titled assets from the living individual (grantor/settlor) to the trust thereby removing that titled asset from the individuals’ personal estate in hopes of thereby avoiding the Probate process. A common example is deeding real estate (i.e. your home) to the trust. The trust then takes ownership of the asset and is managed by the trustee/grantee.
A revocable living trust allows for the grantor/settlor and trustee/grantee to be one-in-the-same. Assets during the life of the grantor/settlor may be transferred into or out of the trust unless the settlor becomes legally incapacitated whereby assets in the trust must remain there.
An irrevocable trust requires that the settlor/grantor and trustee/grantee be different individuals. Assets transferred into an irrevocable trust must remain there until the settlor(s) pass(es) away. This type of trust is largely used to not only avoid Probate, but to create an eligibility for Medicaid after a specified time period.
Once the settlor(s) pass(es) away the assets assigned to the trust are assigned to the beneficiaries. This process is done outside the Probate court as the title of the asset was in the trust, not the individual.
Financial Power of Attorney – This document allows an individual during their lifetime to appoint another individual (agent) to handle their legal affairs if the individual is otherwise unable to. Examples include collecting and managing real or personal property; buying and selling real or personal property; borrowing money; conducting business; receiving and endorsing checks; preparing, filing and signing tax returns; maintaining access to safe deposit boxes; applying for governmental benefits; and engaging in legal proceedings.
The financial power of attorney is effective only while the individual is alive. With the power of attorney, an individual may avoid the need later in life to have a guardian or conservator appointed to represent their interest.
Healthcare Power of Attorney – In the event an individual requires medical assistance, the healthcare power of attorney allows for that individual (principal) to name another, known as a patient advocate, to make important medical decisions as it pertains to the individual. The document is effective only when the principal is unable to make these decisions due to mental incapacity. Through this document the principal directs that certain treatment and procedures are provided to the principal once the principal is incapacitated. The powers granted to the patient advocate include admitting or discharging the principal from a nursing home, hospital, care facility, or hospice; hiring and firing medical personnel; providing guidance on life-sustaining treatment; consulting with medical personnel in treatment procedures; and consulting with family member on medical treatment procedures.
It is imperative to note that the principal makes their own decisions regarding medical treatment so long as they are able. The healthcare power of attorney is effective only when the individual/principal can no longer make these decisions and like the financial power of attorney, it is no longer effective once the person passes away.
These are the four basic estate documents in very brief format and are in no way meant to be a complete or exhaustive description. The documents should all be considered when an estate plan is made. An individual upon review may need none, some, or all of these documents or variants of them. It is advisable to first talk with your family and loved ones and then if need be consult with a trusted lawyer who has current knowledge of Michigan’s Estate Planning laws.
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