Dedicated Assistance with Estates & Trusts in Michigan

Traverse City attorneys protecting the future of your family

No one wants to consider what will happen after they die or become incapacitated. However, it is important to ensure that your preferences are known and that your family is financially protected. Properly drafted trust and estate documents can ease your mind. At the Phelps Legal Group, we thoroughly analyze your estate and help you transfer your assets, minimize your estate taxes, establish guardianships or conservatorships, and protect your loved ones.

Helping you set up a trust in Michigan

Many people believe that trusts are just for the incredibly wealthy, but this is not necessarily true. Anyone who has money to pass on to their loved ones can create a trust. A trust agreement is a document where one person, the“settlor,” names another person, the “trustee,” to hold the title to property on behalf of the settlor. The trustee is in charge of ensuring that your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries according to your wishes. A living trust is a trust that you create while you’re alive, whereas a regular trust is one that is created after your death based on the stipulations of your will. In a living trust, you can be your own trustee until another trustee that you name takes over upon your death.

You can include money, stocks, real estate or other valuable assets in your trust. Your attorney helps you properly draft the agreement to ensure that your trustee is named and your specifications are outlined. You can set requirements, such as your beneficiaries can only have access to the funds at a certain age or can only use the money for education. The details are at your discretion, and our lawyers can help ensure that the document is created in accordance with your preferences.

What are the differences between revocable and irrevocable trusts?

Before you create a trust, it is important to understand all of your options and the differences between revocable and irrevocable trusts.

The main difference between the two is that a revocable trust can be changed at any time. A revocable trust allows you to account for potential changes in circumstances, whether financial or personal. You can modify the terms of your document through a trust amendment, or revoke the original document entirely and create a new one through a trust restatement. Revocable trusts are flexible, but they do not offer creditor protection. Your assets are still considered yours until you die.

An irrevocable trust cannot be changed once the agreement has been signed. A revocable trust also becomes irrevocable after your death. An irrevocable trust lessens estate taxes and protects your assets from creditors. Once your assets are placed into the irrevocable trust, they no longer belong to you, meaning they are not subjected to estate taxes.

Our attorneys can help you determine if a revocable or irrevocable trust is right for your situation.

Appointing a conservator or guardian in Michigan

If a person is deemed unable to manage their own estate due to illness, disability or incapacitation, the probate court will appoint a conservator. The conservator will then have legal authority to manage the other person’s estate and finances. The reasons to petition for a conservatorship include:

  • The incapacitated individual cannot properly manage their property.
  • The incapacitated individual cannot properly manage their funds to support and care for themselves and their dependents.

A person who is mentally competent but has limitations due to age may petition for a conservatorship for him- or herself.

If a person is unable to make certain decisions regarding their own welfare, the probate court will appoint a guardian. The responsibilities of the guardian include making decisions regarding healthcare and choosing where the incapacitated person will live. A full guardian can make all legal decisions, while a limited guardian can only make decisions on court-specified matters.

An experienced trusts and estates attorney at our firm can help you understand the differences between conservatorship and guardianship in Michigan.

Contact our knowledgeable trust and estate attorneys in Traverse City today

Estate planning is complicated, but a skilled attorney at the Phelps Legal Group can help. Call 231-421-6577 or contact us online today. From our Traverse City office, we serve clients throughout northern Michigan. All consultations are confidential.

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