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Estate Planning is one of the core practice areas of the Mitzel Law Group. Our attorneys have extensive experience in helping individuals and their families with their estate planning needs. Our law firm provides estate planning services to our clients in the Ann Arbor, Dexter, Saline, Ypsilanti and surrounding communities and counties.
Regardless of income and amount of assets, every individual should have at least a basic estate plan in place to address both events during life and at death. Some of the services we provide include:
Last Will and Testament – The traditional estate plan document used to identify individuals who are to administer your estate and receive assets at your death. A stand alone last will and testament does not avoid probate but does make sure your instructions are given priority over state laws that identify default heirs.
Revocable (Living) Trust – Now the preferred estate planning document, a revocable or living trust operates much like a last will and testament but with the added benefit of avoiding probate as well as providing control over assets during life.
Trust Funding – Once a trust agreement has been created it must be funded. Trust funding is the process of transferring ownership of your assets to your trust which you control as the trustee. In some cases certain assets will remain in your individual name while naming your trust as beneficiary. Our attorneys provide a detailed analysis of your assets and will help you with the funding process.
Financial Power of Attorney – A financial power of attorney allows you to appoint individuals who can assist you with financial transactions. A durable power of attorney allows a named individual to continue to assist you with your financial matters even though you may be temporarily or permanently incapacitate. Appointing a power of attorney may also help to avoid a probate court proceeding for conservatorship.
Medical Power of Attorney – A medical power of attorney, also referred to as a patient advocate designation, allows you to name individuals who will make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. Although Michigan law does not recognize or provide for “living wills” a patient advocate designation will give you control in appointing those individuals who you prefer and trust to make medical decisions on your behalf. Appointing a patient advocate may help avoiding a probate court proceeding for guardianship.
While we provide estate planning for a broad section of clients our attorneys are adept at working with older clients and addressing needs specific to their situation. This includes preserving and transferring assets, working with adult children who provide care for their parents, and protecting older clients from neglect and financial abuse.
In addition to basic estate planning, our attorneys provide advanced estate planning for our clients. This advanced planning may be necessary due to sizeable assets, unique family relationships and situations, ownership of a business, and tax mitigation.
Dynasty Trusts – Also referred to as lifetime trusts, legacy trusts, or generation skipping tax trusts, these trusts are designed to benefit two or more generations of family descendants. Trust funds are protected from a beneficiaries creditors, a divorcing spouse, and estate taxes, while providing a financial safety net.
Asset Protection Trusts – With the enactment of the Qualified Dispositions in Trusts Act in 2017, domestic asset protection trusts (DAPT’s) are now allowed and recognized under Michigan law. These trusts provide a very high level of protection from creditors but have a number of technical formalities that must be followed. Our attorneys are knowledgeable with the drafting and administration of these trusts as well as offer trustee services.
Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts – As the name suggests an irrevocable life insurance trust (“ILIT”) is a special type of trust that owns one or more life insurance policies. An ILIT provides structured benefits and distributions for trust beneficiaries but with the added benefit of excluding the insurance death benefit from an individual’s taxable estate.
Tax Assistance and Preparation – Our attorneys regularly provide advanced tax planning and advice involving various matters including those involving qualified retirement accounts, gift and estate tax, generation skipping transfer tax, capital gain and cost basis, and fiduciary income tax.
Charitable Planning and Foundations – Charitable gifts during life, charitable trusts, and private family foundations are some of the legal services our law firm provides for our philanthropic clients.
Our estate planning attorneys can assist clients with the planning and protection of their children, siblings, or other loved ones with special needs. This includes special needs trusts (third-party and self-settled trusts), guardianship and conservatorship, and ABLE accounts.
Asset protection is inherent in much of the estate planning we already provide our clients, however, sometimes a more deliberate analysis and plan is needed to protect our clients assets. Our attorneys can provide expert advice on how to protect assets from unknown future creditors including identifying and explaining exempt assets and nonexempt assets, the benefits of using a Michigan domestic asset protection trust (“DAPT”), and other planning techniques that comply with the law.