Brown Borkowski & Morrow


Photo of Brown Borkowski & Morrow legal team

Personalized Estate Planning Solutions For Michigan Residents

Even though most people admit that they haven’t done so yet, about 58% of adults in the US have not completed essential estate planning documents. It can be uncomfortable for many people to discuss what will happen to their assets when they pass away, but estate planning is necessary to ensure your final wishes are carried out.

Establishing a well-thought-out estate plan allows you to provide protection for your property, finances and medical care. Your answers to these and other questions will inform your choices: Do you want to avoid probate court? Maximize your heirs’ inheritance? Ease the process of estate administration? Preserve a vacation home? Provide for a child with special needs? Disinherit an heir? Appoint a decision-maker in the event you become incapacitated? At Brown Borkowski & Morrow in Farmington Hills, Michigan, our wills and trusts lawyers have been helping clients just like you since our firm was established.

Estate Planning Basics

The focus of estate planning is the distribution of assets. You assign a trusted estate administrator to carry out your instructions regarding care for any minor children, disabled family members, pets or whomever you designate. Your administrator is responsible for ensuring your assets comply with local, state and federal government regulations. The administrator, often called an executor, is meant to be accountable and trustworthy.

Digital and hard copies of your estate planning guide

Before you begin estate planning, it’s essential to create multiple copies in locations that are easily accessible for your executor. Digital storage is the safest method to store important information, and easy to print copies when necessary. Your estate planning includes financial planning and burial preferences, so it’s important to note how taxes and inflation might affect these components.

A comprehensive guide for estate planning

Estate planning establishes the total assets at your death or serious incapacity. If you cannot make decisions, your planning guide is there to help guide your caregivers appropriately. The elements listed add value and clarity to your financial planning guide:

  • Asset Management: Distribution amounts and designations.
  • Guardianship: Minor children and pets placements.
  • Taxes: Investment strategies that protect assets from inflation and depreciation.
  • Probate: Adherence to laws to protect against court-ordered intervention.

A complete accounting of your goals, values and aspirations for your legacy is beneficial to your estate planning. It’s a financial document; however, it can also include gifts and charitable donations. Your planning guide should also contain any religious preferences you desire.

Why Do Michigan Clients Need Estate Planning Legal Help?

We provide experienced and insightful legal representation regarding estate planning. Hiring a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can listen and understand your individual family issues is beneficial because it allows you to:

  • Create a living wills trust
  • Plan a business succession
  • Plan for the care of your pets
  • Provide for charitable donations
  • Reduce taxes for your heirs
  • Choose durable powers of attorney
  • Take charge of health care directives
  • Creating pour over Wills
  • Avoid probate court
  • Avoid federal estate tax
  • Choose the appropriate personal representative or trustee
  • Choose a guardian or conservator in the event of your disability
  • Make medical decisions while you are still healthy

What Estate Planning Documents Do I Need?

  1. Last will and testament (Or A Will)
    The Last Will and Testament or a Will is an estate planning document that will dictate how your assets will be distributed to your beneficiaries when you pass away. It’s the most important document but not the only one. You also need to specify beneficiaries on financial accounts like a 401(k) account, insurance plan or an annuity. This lets those assets pass directly to a specific person without the probate process. You should also write a letter of intent. This is not legally binding, but it contains your plans for how you want your assets divided as well as any funeral plans. The document will also describe when your loved ones will receive the assets you’ve left behind and indicates who will be your estate executor. You need a Last Will and Testament so you can take estate planning into your own hands instead of allowing the state to determine what will happen to your estate.
  2. Durable power of attorney
    Your Durable Power of Attorney is essential for estate planning because it allows you to assign someone to be your attorney-in-fact. You can choose from a “sprung” power of attorney in which the terms of the document are legally binding the moment the papers are signed or opt for the “springing” power of attorney in which the terms of the document are not legally binding until a certain date or if you become incapacitated.
  3. Advance directive for healthcare
    This series of documents is important for estate planning because the directive allows you to assign someone to serve as your healthcare proxy. You should make your wishes known to your relatives regarding your medical care if you become unable to make these decisions for yourself. This makes your health-related wishes clear and can ease some of the stress on your loved ones if you become incapacitated or seriously ill.
  4. Guardianship Agreement
    This is important if you have underage children. This specifies who takes care of the kids if you pass away and they are not old enough to live on their own yet.

Does your law firm handle only rich people’s estates?

Not at all. Many of our clients’ deceased loved ones left estates worth far less than a rich person’s estate and we handle probate cases that range from a small estate (under $24,000) to multi million dollar estates. Our services are efficient as well as thorough. We will not take shortcuts, but neither will we take unnecessary steps or waste your time. We regularly serve middle-class working clients, as well as wealthier ones.

Do single people need an estate plan?

Yes. Everyone should have an estate plan. It is essential to an overall financial plan to prevent giving the state the power to decide who gets your assets when you die. If you are single and thinking about estate planning, check out our blog post on Singles and Estate Planning for more information.

Who Needs An Estate Plan?

Anyone can benefit from an estate plan as long as they are a legal adult. Remember that estate planning goes beyond simply distributing assets. It can also be used for medical decisions, creating a guardianship for a minor child and much more. There are helpful estate planning tools at any stage in life.

Who Gets My Estate If I Don’t Have An Estate Plan?

If you die intestate, which is when you do not have a plan, then state law will dictate what happens to your assets. As a general rule, these assets will be divided between your direct descendants and your spouse. But this can be a contentious and complex process, and you would have no say at all in how it played out. Creating an estate plan in advance gives you a voice, and you can make decisions about what happens to your assets – instead of letting the government make them.

What Are The Possible Consequences Of Not Having An Estate Plan?

In some cases, not having an estate plan means that your estate has to pay more in taxes, so a greater percentage of your wealth goes to the government. Additionally, estate disputes are more likely when you pass away without a plan. Adult children have to make decisions about health care and asset distribution on their own, and they may not always agree. To avoid this, you need a Detroit estate planning attorney. Look no further. Contact BBM today!

What Is The Difference Between A Will And A Trust?

A will is a legal document that you can draft with an estate planning lawyer that provides instructions about how you want things to be done – which beneficiaries get certain assets, for instance. A trust is a legal tool used to hold assets. For example, you could put someone’s inheritance in a trust that is designed to pay for their eventual college education. This gives you more control over how your assets are used after death because the trustee has to follow your instructions.

Read Our Estate Planning Blog Posts

We Help Keep Your Legal Document Updated Through the Years

At Brown Borkowski & Morrow, we believe that it is vital to update your will or trust on a regular basis to be certain that the documents meet your intentions. That is why we work with you to make sure all of your wills and directives are updated and meet your current wishes. If the laws change, our Michigan trust and wills lawyers will work with you to change your estate plan to protect your financial interests.

To schedule a free initial consultation to learn more, call us at 888-757-1681 or contact us online.