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Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning is a crucial step in securing your legacy and ensuring your affairs are in order for any unforeseen consequences. It empowers you to dictate the terms for the handling of your assets and personal care. A skilled estate planning lawyer plays a pivotal role in safeguarding your intentions and shielding you from potential legal entanglements related to probate or disputes over your estate.

With extensive experience in Michigan’s estate planning landscape, L.A.H Law, helps ensure a seamless estate planning experience and tailor custom solutions to fit each individual situation. For personalized estate planning guidance, contact us today.

Why Hire Us?

Choosing our firm for your estate planning needs means partnering with an attorney who prioritizes your best interests first. Allen Heneveld’s unique combination of legal expertise, a Master of Business Administration, and a background as a Certified Public Accountant and C-Suite executive, equips him to offer comprehensive guidance that extends beyond legal advice to include financial and business insights.

With over two decades of legal experience and a deep understanding of the intricacies of estate planning, Allen is dedicated to achieving the best possible outcomes for your unique circumstances. Based in Grand Rapids, I am readily available to assist clients throughout the region and the entire State of Michigan. Contact LAH Law PLC for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation to begin addressing your estate planning goals with a compassionate and seasoned professional.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is a comprehensive process designed to manage and distribute your assets both during your lifetime and after your passing. It is a proactive approach to ensure your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are provided for in the event of your incapacitation or death. An estate plan typically includes the creation of a will, the establishment of trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare advocates and directives, and guardianship/conservator designations.

It’s not just about the distribution of wealth—it’s also about making decisions in advance about who will manage your affairs and care for you if you’re unable to do so yourself. By having a robust estate plan, you are taking control of your financial and personal matters, giving you peace of mind that you and your family will be protected and your wishes respected.

Components of Estate Planning

There are 5 core components of your estate plan.

1. Your Life and Future
2. Your Family’s Future
3. Your “Causes”
4. Avoiding or Minimizing Probate
5. Minimizing Estate Taxes

Your Future

Financial: what happens if you are incapacitated and unable to make financial decisions — who will make those for you? This is addressed in your Power of Attorney for Finances.

Health: what happens if you are incapacitated and unable to make healthcare decisions? Do you have healthcare desires that you can list now? Who will be your advocate to make sure that your desires are carried out? Who will make decisions for you in other areas? This is addressed in your Healthcare Advocates & Directives.

Your Family

Guardianship: if you die, who do you want to care for your minor children? This is addressed in your Will.

Financial Support: when you die, how do you want your assets to be distributed to your spouse? Children? Grandchildren? Charity? Etc.? How much will each get? When will it be distributed to them? Are there any conditions for distributions?  This is addressed in your Living Trust.

Financial Integrity: who is going to faithfully carry out your wishes for your family’s financial future? This is usually addressed in your Living Trust.

Your Causes:

Charity: do you have charities that you like to contribute to after your death? How would you like this to happen — One time? Over time? This is usually addressed in your Living Trust.

Avoiding Probate:

Time: the minimum period to probate an estate in Michigan is 5 months — and some take up to 18 months. That’s a long time to wait. The easy way to avoid probate is through a Living Trust.

Costs: the probate fees charged by the state are not bad in Michigan ($2,500), but the attorneys’ fees to guide your personal representative through the process normally exceed the cost of creating a Living Trust.

Minimizing Estate Taxes:

Estate Tax: Most people don’t need to be concerned about estate taxes — as there is none until your estate reaches $13.61 million for a single person and $27.22 million for a married couple.

Gifting: Gifts are excluded from your estate value if they do not exceed $18,000/spouse/person/year. So, you and your wife could give $36,000/child/year without having to file a gift tax return. Gifts to nonprofits are never taxed.

What is a Basic Estate Plan?

A basic Estate Plan includes the following items,

Estate Planning Legal Services

Common aspects and services related to estate planning often include:

Michigan Estate Planning Laws

Michigan estate planning laws specifically address several key areas:

Wills: Michigan law requires that a will be in writing, signed by the testator (or someone at the testator’s direction), and witnessed by at least two individuals. The state allows for self-proving wills, which can expedite the probate process.

Trusts: Trusts are recognized as a means to manage and distribute assets, often allowing for avoidance of probate. Michigan has adopted the Michigan Trust Code which outlines the rules for creating and administering trusts.

Durable Power of Attorney: Michigan permits the creation of durable powers of attorney so that individuals can designate agents to make financial and legal decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated.

Patient Advocate Designations: Similar to a power of attorney for healthcare, these allow individuals to appoint a patient advocate to make medical decisions for them if they are unable to do so themselves, including end-of-life decisions.

Probate and Estate Administration: Michigan has a set of statutes governing the probate process, which includes authenticating a will, gathering assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining estate to the rightful heirs.

Estate Tax: While Michigan does not have a state estate tax, estates are still subject to federal estate taxes if they exceed the federal exemption limit.

Non-probate Transfers: The law allows for the designation of beneficiaries on accounts like life insurance policies and retirement accounts, which can pass outside of probate.

Joint Ownership: Property owned in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship automatically passes to the surviving owner(s) without going through probate.

Lady Bird Deeds: A specific type of life estate deed used in Michigan, allowing for the transfer of property upon death without going through probate – which might also avoid Medicaid recovery against the property.

Small Estate Affidavit: For estates under a certain value, Michigan law allows for the use of a small estate affidavit to collect assets without formal probate.

These laws work together to provide a legal framework for individuals to plan for the management and transfer of their assets according to their wishes.

What is the Cost of an Estate Planning Attorney?

The cost of estate planning in Michigan can differ greatly based on the specific needs of your estate, the attorney’s experience, and their chosen fee structure. Flat fee arrangements for standard estate planning services can range from $2,000 to $5,000 or higher. For more detailed work, attorneys may charge hourly rates from $200 to $500 per hour or more.

Our firm values the importance of thorough estate planning and offers complimentary initial consultations. Following our consultation, we provide clear and equitable fixed pricing for our estate planning services.

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