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Estate planning is more than just the drafting of a will

Nov 10, 2020 | Estate Planning

Creating an effective estate plan is more than having a will and other documents. Estate planning should also include communication with your family and other steps.

Age and maturity

After your children are over 18, you should consider their roles in handling your financial affairs after you die. This highly individualized decision depends on matters such as their maturity and earlier financial experience.

You may also consider creating a trust to disburse assets from your estate or trust according to your instructions. Trusts may be appropriate for unusually large estates, for children with special needs or for beneficiaries with substance abuse problems. Trusts may also have advantages where a family member has problems that could worsen by having sudden access to a lot of money.

In more normal circumstances, it may be appropriate to delay the transfer of wealth to children until the reach 25. At that age, according to science, individuals are more fully mature and can engage in better decision-making.


Conversations about your estate should occur over time. First, start with the most basic and practical information and then go to more complex matters such as your family legacy, your hopes on how your inheritance will be used and how you would like to be remembered.

Initially, discuss each family member’s role and tasks. Assure that they are comfortable with their duties before finalizing your documents.

These roles usually include trustee, executor, agent for healthcare power of attorney, authorized person with access to medical information under HIPAA and agent for financial power of attorney. Provide a contact sheet with everyone involved so they can reach each other and your attorney.

Everyone in your estate plan should know where to find your will, trusts, powers of attorney and other important documents. They should also have a detailed financial record list including investments, bank accounts, mortgages, credit cards, vehicle loans, other debt, and routine bills.

You need to discuss your intent on healthcare such as end of life care and experimental treatment. Share your preferences on long term care.


Over time, your beneficiaries need a general understanding of how your finances are set up. This incudes assets in taxable and tax-deferred accounts, your mortgage and whether there is a family business that will pass on to the next generation.

Beneficiaries should learn about the tax consequences of their inheritance. This includes whether they can step up the basis of inherited assets for capital gains or when they need to take required minimum distributions for inherited individual retirement accounts.

An attorney can provide options that meets your family’s needs. They can also prepare the necessary documents needed for this planning in Michigan.