Managing your estate might be the last thing on your mind as you prepare for a long-awaited family vacation. Unfortunately, not thinking about disasters doesn’t keep them from happening.

If the worst happens, it’s important to not only have an estate plan but to have one that reflects your current wishes. Keep reading to learn what you can do to prepare before you pack your bags.

Why Estate Planning Matters for Michigan Families

An estate plan makes sure that your wishes for your estate — which includes your property, real estate, and assets — and for your minor children are carried out. If you die and don’t have an estate plan in place, the state will distribute your property and make provisions for your children according to Michigan’s intestacy laws.

Under these laws, the state passes your property on and designates a caretaker for your children according to pre-established rules created by lawmakers. While intestacy laws serve an important purpose, they are generic by nature and can’t account for your unique circumstances, priorities, and wishes. If you have any specific wishes, they need to be outlined in an estate plan that includes a living will. Otherwise, they won’t be carried out.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Michigan Estate Planning Basics: Everything You Need to Know

Use Your Estate Plan to Designate a Guardian for Your Minor Children

Whether your children are accompanying you on your vacation or not, it’s essential that you make specific provisions in your estate plan for the care of your children. This means each child should be assigned a guardian; it can be the same person for multiple children, but you still need to name each child and their designated guardian individually. Having a backup guardian in case your primary choice is no longer able to care for your children is also a good idea.

Under Michigan law, you must state your wishes for child guardianship through a will. If the worst should happen and you haven’t updated your estate plan to reflect your current family situation and your wishes, it can create a complicated situation that causes extra stress and grief. This is just one more important reason to make sure your estate plan is both thorough and up to date before you leave for a major trip.

Establish a Living Will and Power of Attorney

Should something catastrophic happen while on vacation, it’s important for healthcare professionals to know what kind of care you want in case you’re no longer able to give direction. The documents that provide these healthcare instructions are called advance directives. Two important types of advance directives are a living will and a healthcare power of attorney.

  • Living Will

A living will can outline your healthcare preferences in case you are no longer able to communicate your wishes for care. A living will may also detail whether you would like to be kept alive in the event you become incapacitated and unable to survive without life-support measures.

  • Healthcare Power of Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney is a type of advance directive that designates someone to make decisions for you if you’re no longer able to make them yourself. Signing a healthcare power of attorney grants someone you trust the ability to make critical medical decisions on your behalf.

Protect Your Legacy With a Will and Trust

You’ve worked hard to establish your legacy, and you don’t want the results of that hard work to get distributed in a way that doesn’t reflect your desires and values. A living will can help make sure your estate goes to the people you wish and in the manner you wish, and a trust can further support this goal.

  • A Living Will

A will is a fundamental estate planning document, and it’s a document everyone should have. A legal will establishes:

    • The executor of your estate — the person who makes sure your wishes are carried out after you pass
    • Who assumes ownership of your property and assets
    • Who takes guardianship of your children
  • Living Trust

A living trust is another estate planning tool that can address specific needs and help your loved ones avoid complications. With a trust, a third-party trustee manages and distributes the contents of the trust on your behalf according to your wishes. Whereas a will only goes into effect when you die, a living trust allows you to make decisions regarding the relevant assets while you are still alive.
A trust doesn’t replace a will; instead, it works in conjunction with a will and enhances your estate plan. Assets that you transfer into the trust can be distributed privately, whereas a will (and the information it contains about your estate) becomes public record. Trusts also allow you to create specific funds that care for children with special medical needs, address educational costs, or even provide for beloved pets.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Is a Living Trust Better Than a Will?

Contact the Law Offices of Kari Santana for Help Reviewing Your Estate Plan in West Michigan

Don’t leave home without the security of knowing your estate plan is up to date. We never expect the worst to happen, but if it does, a clear and thorough estate plan can help guide your family through a difficult time.

At the Law Offices of Kari Santana, we understand how important it is to prepare for the future. Whether your estate is large or small, complex or straightforward, we understand that you need an estate plan as unique as you are. We address each family situation with creative, individually tailored solutions so you can feel confident your estate and your legacy are in good hands.

To schedule your free initial consultation with an attorney from our team, contact us online or call us at 616-717-5759.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.