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We help families put their legal and final affairs in order.
Losing a loved one can be difficult enough without having grieve and then begin the process of sorting out assets with family members and handling creditors inquires. Very often disputes arise over personal property and real estate.
David Soble and his team relieve our clients from the stress of probating an estate. We support your family and help you make difficult decisions associated with this emotional legal process.
The legal probate process ensures the legal transfer of assets from the deceased to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. Michigan law also requires claimants to probate a matter in order to:
- Challenge the validity of the will
- Appoint someone to manage the estate
- File the estate inventory and appraise the estate property
- Pay any debts or taxes (including estate taxes)
- Distribute the property as direct by the will—or by the intestate succession laws if there is no will.
David and his legal team provide comprehensive legal services for probate matters. Its best to call us regarding an estate’s assets once you realize that you have an issue with family or creditors.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Top Questions Concerning Wills & Estate Plans
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Who is an estate plan for?
Every individual should consider creating an estate plan. It is a common misconception that only the wealthy should have an estate plan. This is far from the truth, as creating an estate plan will ensure that your assets and dependents are taken care of in the manner you would like in the unfortunate event that something happens to you. Also, people often possess more property of value than they initially believe. Adding up the value of your assets is an important first step when determining if you should create an estate plan. However, it is true that the more assets, money and dependents that you are responsible for, the more important having a proper estate plan becomes.
Why is it important to have an estate plan?
Estate planning is the process of designating the distribution of your assets upon your death. It will also determine the management of your assets if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself. More importantly, estate planning gives you an opportunity to appoint a guardian to watch and care for any surviving minor children. Some of the ways to create an estate plan include making a will or a living revocable trust.
It’s important to have an estate plan so that your family/friends/business associates don’t spend the next decade fighting in court, and possibly in person. The fights can get even uglier if you have young kids, or lots of money and property, or both.
What are the Main Documents for an Estate Plan?
The main documents for creating an estate plan are a will, revocable trust, durable power of attorney, and advanced health care directive. You do not need each one of these instruments as each situation calls for a specific plan. However, you should be familiar with each type of document to know how they work and the value they bring. An experienced estate planning attorney is best suited to determine the instruments needed for your situation.
If you die without a Will, your estate will still have to go through the Probate process. However, instead of giving your Executor the go-ahead to distribute your property, the court will name an Executor (known as an “estate administrator”) and will tell that person how to distribute your property.
To begin a probate proceeding, the Executor of the Will or an attorney acting on behalf of the estate must initiate the proceeding with the local Probate court. This is done by submitting an official document called a Petition for Probate of Will to the court. The court will review the Will and determine whether or not it’s a valid legal document—that is, whether or not the Will is legally binding and was in fact created by you.
If the court determines that the Will is valid, the court then gives the Executor legal documents called either Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration. These documents authorize the Executor to distribute assets to beneficiaries. This may include transferring assets from your name into the names of the beneficiaries and paying any debts or taxes on behalf of your estate.
For example, if Susie’s mother dies and she named Susie the Executor of her estate in her Will, then Susie must submit a Petition for Probate of the Will to the local Probate court. Once the court determines the Will is valid, they will give Susie Letters of Administration that authorize her to distribute her mother’s assets.
Should you use an attorney?
If you have complex financial arrangements, such as real estate, overseas assets, elaborate investments, or trusts, then you’re going to need some help. This means working with an attorney or an online service that offers advice from real lawyers. The best way to find an attorney isn’t much different than finding a good doctor, electrician or dog walker. Get recommendations from friends, family, or other attorneys. Once you have some options, meet with them and make sure you get along, approve of their working style and skills, and, of course, don’t forget the price tag.
However, even if you do not have a complex financial situation, an attorney will make sure your intentions are carried out through valid legal documents.
What are the main differences between a Trust and a Will?
The first difference between a will and a trust is that a will covers any property that is only in your name when you die. It does not cover property held in joint tenancy or in a trust. A trust, on the other hand, covers only property that has been transferred to the trust.
Another main difference between a will and a trust is that a will goes into effect only after you die, while a trust takes effect as soon as you create it. A will is a document that directs who will receive your property at your death and it appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes. By contrast, a trust can be used to begin distributing property before death, at death, or afterward. A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person called a “trustee,” holds legal title to property for another person, called a “beneficiary.”
Further, a trust is able to pass through probate. This means that, while a court ensures that a will is valid and that the property named in the will gets distributed the way the deceased wanted, a trust passes outside of probate. So a court does not need to oversee the trust process, which can save time and money. A trust, unlike a will, does not become part of the public record. A trust can remain private.
Lastly, A will allows you to name a guardian for children and to specify funeral arrangements, while a trust does not. On the other hand, a trust can be used to plan for disability or to provide savings on taxes, while a will does not.
A Word About Wills and Estate Plans
Obtain Your Free Copy of Soble’s Newest Planning Resource:
“No Loose Ends:
An Attorney’s Brief Guide For Putting Your Final Affairs In Order”
Now you can subcribe for free weekly excerpts of Soble’s straight forward and brief approach to establishing an effective estate plan. This resource provides planning checklists, state specific planning guides, forms and brief and
easy -to -understand commentary. The book is valued at $179 value, but we’ll send you the excerpts for free!
“I have read David’s other books on real estate and business law. I always appreciate how succinct he is with his subject matter. I especially liked his discussion on how to protect large assets from the courts. He even gives ideas about how to keep property from greedy family members! I definitely think more people should read his guides.” Lorraine D. Beverly Hills, MI
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My name is David Soble, and I am a real estate and finance attorney serving in Michigan and Ohio. Every week I receive quite a few legal inquiries as they relate to real estate law, contracts and financial disputes. I sort through what I believe to be the most...
I am in receipt of this inquiry from Susan L. from Walled Lake, MI. Back in 2005, Susan and her mother and purchased a small home in Wolverine Lake. They lived in the home together until this year when Susan purchased her own home. Recently, when Susan was going...