Estate Planning

Estate Planning in Battle Creek, MI

The Unified Estate and Gift Tax Credit was raised to $5,340,000 for 2014. This change basically eliminates the estate tax, commonly referred to as the death tax. Don’t ignore your estate plan because of it though. Your managing a great deal of control in your financial documents.

Beneficiary designations are followed by the courts before beneficiaries designated in your will. It’s critical to keep your beneficiaries up to date. Your will may tell the court that everything goes to your spouse, but if your sister is the beneficiary on an old 401(k), your sister will inherit the 401(k) instead of your wife. Competent advice will help you avoid many costly mistakes, including this one.
Professional advice for estate planning
Generations Financial Planning works with your attorney to create well thought out estate plans. We continually review your information, including beneficiaries and tie up loose ends. We make sure you pass your wealth to the next generation simply and efficiently.

What steps should you take to plan your estate?

Designated Beneficiaries on Financial Accounts

If you live in Michigan, you should have Primary and Secondary Beneficiaries on all financial accounts

A Will

Each person should have their own will. Your will designates where you want your property that doesn’t have a beneficiary attached to it to go when you pass away. You can name one person to receive everything or you can name many people. You can even make sure your nephew gets that special watch he has always admired. Your will can also designate a Guardian for your children and you can create a trust for any minor children as a paragraph in your will.

Trusts

Trusts are a great way to avoid probate and control distributions of assets after death.  If you die with a will the probation of the will has to go through the courts and the contents of the estate can be found in public records.  A trust on the other hand is a private matter and can avoid probate.  In the case of a special needs beneficiary or a spendthrift beneficiary the trust can control distributions after death according to need or a pre-determined schedule.  If a couple has assets above the level that can trigger estate taxes trusts can be constructed to reduce or eliminate estate taxes.

Power of Attorney (POA)

This document is important while you are alive. It allows your agent to act on your behalf in financial matters. You spell out what type of powers you grant that agent and when he or she has those powers. You could give the power to sell stocks, gift money from your bank account, or even sell your house.

Living Will

The lack of this document created the Terri Schiavo controversy. Some people refer to this document as the “pull the plug decision.” It is not easy to think about, but you can save your family a lot of stress by making this decision while you are healthy and of sound mind.

Health Care Power of Attorney

In the event that you become incapacitated, this document will allow the agent you selected to make health care decisions for you. This can be very relevant when two family members disagree over how to proceed with your medical care. This document lets everyone know who you trusted to make some difficult decisions regarding your health.

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