Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning
Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning Information. To make sure you and your loved ones are protected well, spend some time planning your future with Kenneth V. Zichi, attorney and counselor at law. Dr. Zichi is a member of the Probate & Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan, and has been helping individuals in Livingston and Ingham Counties plan estates and ensure their families well-being since 1986.
To schedule a free initial consultation call: (810) 299-5222 or email Dr. Zichi here.
My “philosophy” when helping clients plan their futures:
If I had to pick one pet peeve, it would be all the ‘one trick ponies’ out there today who try to scare people about Probate, Wills and Trusts. First off, please remember that Probate laws differ from state to state. The following discussion applies to residents of Michigan, and is not a substitute for legal counsel. If you have questions, please contact me or a local lawyer for more details and real legal advice! You may have seen an advertisement in the newspaper, on the radio or TV, on the Internet, or perhaps you attended a “financial planning seminar” that described revocable inter vivos trusts, also known as “living trusts.” Some planners claim everyone needs a living trust, while others believe that a Will is all most people need. What you need to remember is that not everyone wears a size 9 shoe, and not everyone fits into a ‘one size fits all’ estate plan! Before you make a decision to incur the extra cost and hassle of a trust, or dismiss a trust out of hand because you think your estate is ‘too small’ you should know two things:
1. In Michigan, Probate can be fast and inexpensive.
Some states impose procedural requirements that generate large legal fees and take years to complete. But Michigan has a vastly simplified procedure called “unsupervised administration” that you can take advantage of merely by using the proper language in your will. This procedure can be completed in as few as five months and usually will cost about the same as, if not less than, setting up a living trust.
2. Living trusts do not save taxes.
Anyone who tells you that a living trust will save estate or income taxes is mistaken. A living trust can do nothing about income taxes; and while it is true that a living trust may contain the same estate tax-saving provisions as a will, the decision to execute a living trust instead of a tax-planned will is going to have no effect on your estate tax bill. Also, the need for ‘QTIP’ (tax planning for married couples) trusts has greatly diminished since the 2011 tax reform, so be careful before jumping into such plans.
Lastly, there are often situations where it makes sense to have a trust for non-tax purposes, but in order to determine your specific needs and what sort of trust will work for you and your family, you need to hire someone who knows what he is doing and what your concerns and wishes are!
Whatever else you might take from this, please realize that a ‘one size fits all’ kit, or a ‘one trick pony’ who tries to sell you a trust but can’t explain the pluses and minuses of the document will probably be wrong for anyone.
Below are a couple of sites with specific information. The one from Texas is 97% applicable to Michigan Law as well, and is perhaps the best I’ve seen on the web for explaining some of the myths that keep circulating!
The information provided here is for general background information only, and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice, nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between us. If you have any questions regarding a particular issue or topic I strongly suggest you seek appropriately licensed legal counsel.
Interested? Want to discuss your specific plans and how to best accomplish your goals? For more information, or to schedule a free initial consultation, call (810) 299-5222 or email Dr. Zichi here.
Kenneth V. Zichi, J.D. Complete Personal and Small Business Legal Services