7 Tools in a Comprehensive Estate Plan I Berry’s Bites

The seven key tools that are part of any comprehensive estate plan from Michigan Estate Planning lawyer, Chris Berry. The seven documents include a trust, will, financial power of attorney, medical power of attorney, personal care plan, deed and final expense plan.



Hi, Chris Berry here with Berry’s Bites. Today we’re going to talk about the seven key documents that make up a comprehensive estate plan. These are the key tools, and understand these are just tools, what’s more important is actually having a plan but most of the estate plans that we do in our office, and we’ve been doing this for approaching 15 years almost now, it’s going to be shortly. There’s seven key documents that we need to have as part of any plan.

The first thing is to have a trust, and there’s different types of trusts out there. We could have a basic revocable trust, we could have a trust that provides asset protection for the children and beneficiaries, creates a legacy or we could even have a castle trust. First point is to have a trust because with a trust you can avoid probate, control the distribution, and even build in asset protection.

In addition to the trust, the second key document is to have a will so last will and testament. Even if you have a trust, you still have what’s called a pour-over will so if asset does end up in probate, which we hope to avoid, but it does end up in probate then that will will knock it into the trust. Then the third thing is a financial power-of-attorney. That’s a document that appoints someone to make financial decisions if you’re unable to; so who’s going to pay your bills, write checks, that type of thing.

The fourth thing is a medical power-of-attorney, and so that’s a document that appoints someone to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to make your own medical decisions. Included with that would be your direction with regards to end of life so that Terry Schiavo situation, what to do if you’re on life support. In Michigan, we call this a patient advocate designation.

Now the fifth thing, in addition to the trust, the will, the financial power-of-attorney, the medical power-of-attorney, is what’s called a personal care plan. This is a document that gives instructions to your financial and medical power-of-attorney on how best to care for you if you were to need any type of long term care. Then next, if you own real estate, you need to do some type of deed whether we deed it directly to your trust or we do what’s called a ladybird deed. This says it’s in your name while you’re alive and then if you pass away it avoids probate and avoids estate recovery and either goes to your trust or goes to your beneficiaries.

Then the last thing we need to cover is our final expenses to make sure that our funeral or burial or cremation is all covered so that the kids don’t have to pay that ahead of time. A lot of times we use what’s called a final expense trust, something that will cover those final expenses and it’s protected from any type of nursing home or Medicaid spend down, pays out to any funeral home within 24 to 48 hours.

Those are the seven key tools that we utilize when we put together an estate plan. Now what we do is we then utilize those tools to design and customize it so it’s different for each family. There’s not a lot of cookie cutter, every family’s a little bit different. Those are the seven tools that should be part of any type of comprehensive estate plan.

This has been Chris Berry with Berry’s Bites. I invite you to continue watching and if you do have questions or topics that you’d like me to spend three to five minutes talking about, shoot me an email at contact@theeldercarefirm.com. Thank you, take care.

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