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Estate Planning Attorney

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A Will is a legally binding document setting forth your wishes and instructions on how you want your property distributed after you die. Assets that pass under your Will are assets that are titled in your name alone and don’t have a beneficiary designation, aren’t jointly held with another or aren’t held in a Trust. That is why a Will is often called a “ticket to probate court.” If you have assets that pass under your Will, there will be probate administration of your estate.

If you die without a Will, the State of Michigan, by statute and through your county probate court, decides who gets your property and in what portions. These are called the laws of “Intestate Succession”. “Intestate” means dying without a Will. This may or may not be the way you would have chosen to pass on your estate. For instance, if you would like to leave everything to your spouse, you will need to say that in your Will, otherwise your spouse will receive only a portion of your probate estate and the rest will go to your children (or to your parents if you have no children).

In addition, in your Will you can name the person you want to administer your estate and designate the people you want to act as guardians and conservators to take care of your minor children. These positions are appointed by the probate court but your wishes will be taken into consideration and will have priority by the judge in making the decision.

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Executor of your Will

In Michigan, the executor is called a “Personal Representative”. This is the person who administers your Will if probate is required. Here are some factors to consider in choosing a Personal Representative:
  • Is your named Personal Representative local, and if not, how difficult would it be for him or her to deal with a county probate court proceeding (i.e. Oakland, Wayne or Macomb)?
  • Is your chosen Personal Representative organized and good with managing assets?
  • Would your chosen Personal Representative be fair to the beneficiaries and communicate well with them?
  • Do you wish to name Co-Personal Representatives to act together or one person alone?
  • Do you wish to name a backup if the named Personal Representative is unable to serve?

“Karen, we really, really appreciate you! The better the planning we do, the luckier we have been, which is why I brought Aunt Betty to you 14 years ago, and we have sought your advice throughout. She is at peace knowing she doesn't need to worry about managing estate-related choices in her final days.“

Jay Smith

“Thanks for taking such good care of us and making it easy to ask questions. I appreciate not being made to feel stupid for asking questions. It was a lovely gift at a tough time.“

Charlie Patricolo

“Throughout the emotional roller coaster ride as my father’s Trustee, I am grateful you were there for me. You kept me grounded and focused on the job at hand, when I could easily have let my emotions take over. I am sure my Dad is smiling down on how everything came together, and happy I stayed with you as my legal counsel. I know I am certainly smiling. Thank you again.”

Lynn Speerschneider

“I would not hesitate to contact Karen in the future, or recommend her to friends and family, for estate planning needs. She made a confusing process very easy and painless.”

Top qualities: Personable, Good Value, On Time

“Karen is very personable and professional. Her method of determining my estate planning needs minimized the amount of time and effort on my part. She generated an estate plan that was fully customized for my special situation. It was a pleasure to work with her. I will continue to recommend her to my associates and friends.”

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0

“I’d like to start by saying THANK YOU! For the first time in my life I found myself in trouble. I spoke with you and realized that I was speaking to a warm and sensitive person. After our discussion, you referred me to someone you felt more appropriate or fitting to my situation. I am grateful to you both! If I need a Lawyer or a CPA again, I would want the support and guidance of the two of you! Thank you again, you have made a difference in my life!”

Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0


Complimentary Consultation

Come on in for a complimentary 30 minute consultation to meet Karen and learn about what you should be considering in your estate plan to fit your personal circumstances. If you fill out our estate plan questionnaire and bring it with you, it will make the meeting more productive.

Complete our questionnaire and bring to the meeting.

For information on the duties of a Personal Representative, see our Checklist for Administering an Estate.

Guardians for your Children

A Guardian is in charge of the physical care and custody of a minor child until the child reaches age 18 if the child’s parents aren’t alive. Here are some factors to consider in choosing a Guardian:
  • Does your chosen Guardian have similar morals and views to yours regarding raising children?
  • Does your chosen Guardian know your child’s needs and your goals regarding education and activities?
  • Will your child need to relocate to live with the Guardian?
  • If you choose a couple as Guardians, such as your sister and her husband, what are your wishes if they divorce or one passes away?
  • Do you wish to name a backup if the named Guardians are unable to accept the position?

Conservators for your Children

A Conservator is in charge of managing any assets inherited by a minor child until the child reaches age 18. The Conservator is subject to the supervision of the probate court and must file annual accountings and get permission from the court to make certain distributions. Here are some factors to consider in choosing a Conservator:
  • Is the named Conservator organized and good with managing assets?
  • Is your Conservator honest and secure in their own finances, i.e. will they use your child’s funds only for your child’s interests and not their own?
  • Does the Conservator know your child’s needs and your goals regarding education and activities?
  • Would the Conservator work well with the Guardian to supply needed funds to them?
  • Do you wish to name a backup if the named Conservator is unable to accept the position?
For information on keeping a child’s inheritance in trust beyond the age of 18 and avoiding probate supervision, see our information on Revocable Living Trusts.