Home » Areas of Practice » Estate Planning

Estate Planning – Not Just for the Wealthy

Most people think that estate planning is only for the wealthy – it’s not!  Estate planning is a way to plan for the future and protect what you have worked so hard to earn.  It is a way to pass on your assets while avoiding probate and unnecessary taxes.

What is an Estate Plan?

Estate planning is an integral part of prudent financial management.  Elements of an estate plan include:

  • drafting a will to establish:
    • who will take care of your minor children so it isn’t left only to the court
    • how your property should be distributed
    • who will administer your estate
  • creating a trust to:
    • provide for the care of your minor children and protect assets for your minor children
    • avoid probate – losing up to 10% of your hard-earned assets due to court costs, administration costs, and attorney’s fees
    • significantly reduce or eliminate unnecessary taxes
    • protect heirs’ inheritances from their creditors or divorce asset division
    • keep your hard-earned money as a legacy for your loved ones and/or charitable organizations
    • take care of special needs children or heirs who are not responsible enough to handle an inheritance on their own
  • end of life planning:
    • durable power of attorney for your representative to manage your affairs while you are unable to do so
    • medical power of attorney for your loved ones to have the authority to carry out your final medical wishes if you are not able to do so
    • advance medical directives also known as living wills to determine what is provided to you at the end of your life – nutrition, hydration, medication, etc.

How VanderBroek Law PLLC Can Help:

VanderBroek Law PLLC can help you create an asset protection and estate plan that meets your needs, as well as the needs of your family. Effective protection can limit your estate’s exposure to taxes, creditors and possible probate issues that could come in the future. Our law firm can help you explore your options in a quick and responsible time frame.

The first step in developing a plan for your asset protection and estate planning is to perform a complete review of a client’s financial holdings. Every client is unique, and it is important to accurately evaluate assets, saving accounts and other information.

We ask our clients what their goals are, who is going to have control of the assets and how they want their affairs to be handled in the future. We will also look at exposure to risk, and a plan is developed.

How To Learn More About Estate Planning Solutions

Talk with an attorney today about estate planning needs by contacting Anne VanderBroek today!  Schedule your free consultation today!

What is Estate or Trust Administration?

Estate Administration is better known as probate administration.  If your assets are not titled into a trust, the court must retitle these assets in order for your family to inherit them.  This process is known as probate.  The court takes a record of all the assets belonging to the deceased – bank accounts, homes, vehicles, personal property, etc. – and, at the end of the process, provides for them to be transferred by either the terms of your will or by the terms of state law.  Of course, the court takes a fee for their services in addition to any other costs.  This fee can be up to 10%!, depending on the total value of all assets.

In addition to the costs, the court requires a notice to be published to all potential creditors – in your local newspaper – and given time to put forth a claim.  This will reduce the total assets given to the heirs, sometimes including all available assets.  The probate process can oftentimes take more than a year to complete and strict deadlines must be met.

Trust Administration, on the other hand, is a private process.  It involves helping the trustee to carry out the terms of the trust.  The trust documents themselves are never filed with the court.  Though a notice is still required to be published, it merely states that you have died and that a trust exists.  The Trust Administration process is a much quicker, more efficient, and less costly option – the benefit of planning ahead.  Additionally, unlike probate administration, there are no deadlines to meet, so family members can take the time to grieve while the trustee keeps the assets safe.

Estate Planning -Wills & Trusts – Elder Law

Are You Prepared to Grow Old?

What happens when you require skilled nursing care or even need to live in a nursing home.  How long will your money last?

In the broadest sense, estate planning is a gift for your loved ones – the gift of not leaving a big mess for your surviving friends and family to clean up.  The mess is the complication of assets, digital accounts, unfinished business, legacy, etc.  By planning ahead through estate planning before your death or incapacity, you reduce or eliminate the mess and cost of probate administration during what is a difficult time for them while coping with your loss.

Working with an estate planning attorney is not just for the wealthy to avoid estate taxes.  There are many reasons for everybody to have an estate plan, even if you only have a couple of thousand dollars in the bank.  Estate planning commonly involves Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Directives (aka Living Will), and Guardian Nominations for minor children.

An estate planning attorney can help you get organized so you don’t leave a mess for your loved ones.  He or she can also be a trusted person for your loved ones to turn to after you are no longer around…that is, if you hire the right kind of attorney.

Document factory or trusted advisor?

At VanderBroek Law, our goal in helping you with your estate planning is to be a trusted, lifetime advisor to you, our clients, and your family.  We focus on you having what you need – a complex plan if needed, but a much simpler plan if not.  We don’t believe in complexity for complexity’s sake.

Unfortunately, this is not the most common approach to estate planning in the legal industry. Most attorneys focus on churning out as many documents as possible and charging you as high a fee as possible.Some even create intentionally defective documents so that they can have your family’s business in probating your estate once you have passed. Because you want to do the right thing, you’ll pay for your pile of documents, sign them, and feel relieved that you’ve checked “estate planning” off your list.

You’ll take your documents home, put them someplace safe, and never think about them again – and you likely won’t hear from your attorney again. You might remember your lawyer said something about “funding the trust,” but, since you have no idea how to do that, it won’t get done. You’ll get busy with life and the trust will never be funded – it will be a piece of paper and nothing more.

The Price of an Outdated Estate Plan

Several years after completing your estate plan, you’ll refinance your house or sell it and buy a new one. You forget you were supposed to let your lawyer know or make sure you kept the title in the name of the trust. You’ll hear something about a change in tax law, but you figure you’ll surely get a letter or an email from your lawyer if it was something that affected you, so you don’t worry about it. Plus, you’d have to dig through your boxes to find your trust documents anyway so you could find your lawyer’s name and find his or her contact information. Who has time for that?

It won’t be until you become incapacitated or die and your family finds your documents somewhere in your home that they discover the plan is so outdated that it has nothing to do with your life, your assets, or the law.

Your family is at a loss. They don’t know where to turn or what to do, so they contact the same lawyer you used to prepare the documents, who, if he or she is still practicing, is as happy as can be to probate your assets, which never made it into the trust.

What kind of Estate Planning Attorney do you want?

What makes VanderBroek Law different is that we have lived through the process we just described.  We’ve seen the horrors and have the scars to prove the tale.  So, we decided to be a different kind of law office.  We understand that you are BUSY – you are growing, you are planning for a life of prosperity – and that you value ease, convenience, and efficiency.  You want to know that you’ve made the best decisions for you and your family, and that your plan will work when you and your loved ones need it most.  You want to make sure your children would be taken care of in the best way possible and will be prepared to receive your wealth if and when something happens to you.

We encourage communication with our clients.  In fact, we’ve thrown out the time clocks, so you never have to be afraid to call or email with a question.  Our estate planning services are billed on a flat-fee basis, agreed to in advance, so there are never any surprises.  We also offer a subscription service after you have completed your estate planning in order to keep your estate plan up-to-date.

We provide you all the details to make sure your estate plan is funded – that assets are transferred into the trust and the plan is ready for action, whenever that may be.  We help you make sure your plan continues to work throughout your lifetime.

VanderBroek Law Helps You Prepare for Life

Want to find out more about how an estate planning attorney may be of value to you?

Get A Free Consultation With Anne.

Michigan: Areas We Serve