CRISTOPHER A. HOGAN, ATTORNEY
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Western Michigan Estate Planning Attorney

Hogan Law, P.C. has been helping West Michigan area residents with legal issues for decades. We have extensive legal experience and are committed to helping our clients succeed. Client focused, results driven.

Western Michigan Estate Planning Attorney

It is important to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure all necessary documents are established and any exemptions that apply are considered throughout the process. This will help minimize the amount of tax burden that needs to be paid upon passing away.

Cristopher Hogan understands that every family's estate planning needs are unique, and he provides tailored advice and counsel to ensure that his client's assets are distributed efficiently during life, as well as at death. 

For families with special needs children or dependents, Cristopher can provide Special Needs Trusts to protect their interests while providing necessary continued financial support. He also has experience in creating 3rd Party Special Needs Trusts, Asset Protection Trusts, Financial Power of Attorney, and Healthcare Power of Attorney documents to protect the rights of his clients. 

In addition to trusts, Cristopher can help draft wills and living wills for couples or individuals looking for long-term asset protection. He is skilled at creating customized plans designed specifically to meet the needs of his clients while optimizing their estate planning goals. 

Cristopher is committed to providing personalized and reliable advice on all aspects of estate planning. He listens carefully to his clients, ensuring that their wishes are honored efficiently and effectively. 

With his vast experience in trust and will preparation, Cristopher can help individuals and families protect their assets for generations to come. 


What is estate planning?

Estate planning in Michigan law is the process of managing and protecting assets during a person’s lifetime and distributing them after death. It involves preparing legal documents, such as wills, trusts, living wills, health care directives, and powers of attorney. 

These documents allow people to ensure their wishes are carried out if they become incapacitated or pass away. Estate planning also helps minimize taxes on the transfer of property and other assets. 

The main goal of estate planning is to help individuals make decisions that will benefit themselves while they’re alive and those they leave behind when they die. Through these documents, individuals can name guardians for minor children, provide for dependents with special needs, protect assets from creditors or lawsuits, plan for end-of-life medical decisions, and divide assets among their family members. 

In Michigan, an estate plan must be tailored to the individual’s particular needs and goals to ensure that it’s effective. 

Estate planning is not just for the wealthy; it benefits everyone regardless of income or net worth. Estate plans are especially important for those with minor children, married couples, single individuals who want to choose how their property gets distributed after death, people with significant wealth that they want to protect from probate costs and taxes, or anyone who has a special need that requires protection. 

The process can be intimidating and overwhelming at first, but working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help make sure that all your assets are properly protected. 

Having an estate plan in place can provide peace of mind for yourself and those you leave behind, so it’s important to take the time to understand Michigan’s estate planning laws and consider consulting a qualified attorney. 

An experienced lawyer can help you develop a comprehensive plan that will ensure your wishes are carried out as efficiently as possible. With careful planning and regular updates, estate plans can protect for years to come. 


Why do I need an estate plan?

In Michigan, an estate plan is critical for individuals who want to ensure their wishes are carried out after they pass away. Estate planning allows people to decide how and when their assets will be distributed and who will receive them. 

With an estate plan, you can also designate a guardian for minor children or appoint someone to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated. An estate plan can provide peace of mind that even after death or disability, your family will still be provided for and taken care of according to your wishes. 

Creating an estate plan involves more than just deciding how your assets should be divided upon death—it also includes making sure those decisions are legally binding by creating documents such as wills and trusts. 

A will outlines exactly how you want your assets and debts to be distributed, who should receive them, and when they should receive them. A trust provides greater control over how your estate will be managed while you are alive and after death. It also allows you to avoid court proceedings, which can expensive and time-consuming.

No matter what kind of estate plan you choose to create in Michigan, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to ensure that all the necessary documents are legally binding and accurately reflect your wishes. 

An attorney can help you determine the best way for you to distribute your assets according to state law and provide advice on any tax issues that may arise. With an estate plan in place, you can rest assured knowing your loved ones will be taken care of according to your wishes. 

In addition to creating an estate plan, it is important to regularly review and revise it as needed. Life circumstances can change over time, which means your estate plan should be updated accordingly. 

For example, if you get married or have children, you may want to add them as beneficiaries in your will or trust. Similarly, if you acquire new assets or experience a major life event such as the death of a spouse or parent, you may need to update your estate plan accordingly. 

It is also important to review your estate plan every few years to ensure that all the documents are up-to-date and reflect any changes in state law. 

Estate Planning
Cristopher A. Hogan
May 30, 2023
Read More...(expanded content)

What documents are included in an estate plan?

Some of the documents included in an estate plan in the state of Michigan include a Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA), Living Will, Revocable Trust Agreement, and Beneficiary Deed. 

The last will is a document that is used to identify how an individual would like their assets distributed after death. This document can also be used to name a guardian for minor children or assign an executor who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions outlined in the will. 

A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) designates someone else to handle financial matters on behalf of an individual if they become incapacitated or are otherwise unable to do so. The DPOA can also be used to name someone who can make healthcare decisions on the individual’s behalf. 

A Living Will is a document that outlines the types of medical treatments an individual would want if they become unable to make his or her own decisions. It typically includes instruction regarding life support, comfort care, and artificial nutrition/hydration. 

A Revocable Trust Agreement (also known as a living trust) is a legal document used for asset management during an individual’s lifetime and after death. A revocable trust allows for flexibility with how assets are distributed without having to go through probate court.

Finally, a Beneficiary Deed is a deed that transfers real estate property upon an individual’s death. This deed does not require probate court proceedings and can help ensure that the property will be transferred according to an individual's wishes. 

These documents protect individuals and their assets during life, after death, and in the event of incapacitation or disability. It is important to consult with a qualified estate planning attorney when creating these documents to ensure they are properly drafted and executed according to state laws. 


What is the difference between a will and a trust?

In the state of Michigan, a will and a trust are both legal documents that can be used to manage estate planning. The main difference between them is how they go into effect upon the death of the testator (the person creating the document). A will goes into effect when it is probated by a court, while a trust takes effect immediately at the time of death. 

A will is typically used to specify who should receive assets from an estate after death, as well as who should act as guardians for minor children or provide care for pets. Wills must meet certain requirements to be legally enforceable, including being signed and witnessed by two individuals. Once created, wills must be filed with the probate court before they can take effect. 

In contrast, a trust is a legal agreement that transfers assets to an individual or entity (the “trustee”) to manage on behalf of another (the “beneficiary”). The trustee is responsible for managing the assets according to the instructions in the trust document and distributing them as directed. 

Unlike a will, trusts are not subject to probate court approval and take effect immediately upon death. They can also be used for tax planning purposes, allowing assets to pass outside of probate and potentially avoiding taxes altogether. 

Both wills and trusts provide several benefits for estate planning in Michigan, but each has its unique advantages and disadvantages depending on the needs of the testator. It's important to consult with an estate planning attorney before deciding which document is right for you. They can help you determine the best way to protect your assets and provide for your family after you pass away.


How often should I update my estate plan?

When it comes to updating an estate plan, Michigan law provides that any person who creates a will or trust should review and update the document at least every five years. This allows for changes in life circumstances or changes in tax laws that may have an impact on the estate plan. 

If a major change is made, such as marriage, divorce, or the addition of children, then it is best to update the estate plan immediately. 

It's also important to make sure that all named beneficiaries are still alive and capable of receiving their share of assets. As people age, certain health issues can arise which could prevent them from being able to receive property through inheritance. 

Additionally, if you move out of Michigan state at any point during your lifetime then you should make sure to update your estate plan with the new laws of the state in which you reside. 

Lastly, if there is a significant change in assets or liabilities it's important to review and update your estate plan as soon as possible so that these changes can be taken into consideration. Keeping an updated estate plan ensures that any potential beneficiaries can receive their share of assets without issue or delay. 

If anyone has questions about updating their estate plan, it's best to contact a qualified attorney for help. They will be able to provide the most up-to-date information regarding Michigan law and how it applies to your specific situation. It's never too early or late to start taking steps toward keeping an updated estate plan to protect yourself and your loved ones. 


What happens if I die without an estate plan?

If someone dies without an estate plan in the state of Michigan, their assets will pass through a process known as "intestate succession." Intestate succession is the legal process that determines who will inherit a person's assets when they die without a valid will. This process may vary from state to state, but in Michigan, it is outlined in Michigan Compiled Laws § 700.2101 et seq. 

Under Michigan law, if the deceased had children or descendants (e.g., grandchildren), those descendants are first in line to receive any estate property left behind by the deceased; otherwise, if there are no descendants, then the surviving spouse receives all the estate property if there is no other surviving relative of equal degree (e.g., siblings, parents). If there is no surviving spouse, then the estate property would go to the deceased's parents. 

If the parents are not living, then the estate property goes to any surviving siblings of equal degree (i.e., full or half-siblings). If no siblings survive, then the estate property passes to any aunts or uncles of equal degree and so on in this order: grandparents, great-grandparents, great-aunts/uncles, and their descendants. 

If none of these relatives can be located or they have all predeceased the decedent, then ultimately the state will take possession of any remaining assets in an intestate succession. It is important to note that if someone dies without a will and no descendants, the surviving spouse may be entitled to the decedent’s entire estate. 

Dying without an estate plan can also cause problems for families when it comes to guardianship and conservatorships for minor children. Without a will or other legally binding documents, the court must intervene in determining who should take care of minor children; this is a long and costly process that could have been avoided with proper planning ahead of time. 

Overall, dying without an estate plan can lead to complicated legal issues for family members trying to sort out assets and guardianships. To reduce these complications and ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away, it is important to make sure you have an up-to-date estate plan. 

An experienced attorney can help you create an estate plan that best meets your needs and wishes, ensuring that your loved ones are taken care of in the event of your death. It is important to work with a knowledgeable lawyer to ensure all documents are legally valid and enforceable under Michigan law. With proper preparation, you can make sure your family is provided for when you’re gone. 


How do I choose an executor or trustee for my estate plan?

When choosing an executor or trustee for your estate in the state of Michigan, it is important to select someone who will be reliable and responsible. The person you choose should have experience in financial matters, understand legal procedures, possess excellent communication skills, and be trustworthy. 

The ideal candidate should also be honest and organized. They must understand their responsibilities as a fiduciary and recognize the importance of keeping your affairs confidential. 

It’s important to find someone capable of handling complex tasks such as filing tax returns and administering trusts. You may want to consider consulting with a lawyer or other professional before making a final decision on who will manage your estate.

Another factor to consider when selecting an executor or trustee for your estate in Michigan is the person's familiarity with local laws and regulations. It is highly recommended to hire someone who has some experience dealing with state and federal estate planning laws. Furthermore, they must be familiar with probate procedures in Michigan. This will help ensure that all tasks related to your estate are handled properly.

Finally, when selecting an executor or trustee for your estate in the state of Michigan, you should make sure they possess the necessary qualifications and have a good reputation among those who know them best. Ask trusted friends and family members for their opinion on potential candidates before deciding. 

You may also want to research any complaints filed against potential executors or trustees online to gauge their reputation within the industry. With the right executor or trustee, you can be sure that your estate will be managed properly and in compliance with all applicable laws. 

Take time to ensure you select someone qualified and trustworthy to serve as your estate executor or trustee. This person should demonstrate expertise in financial matters, understand their fiduciary responsibilities, and have a good reputation among those who know them best. 

Doing so will help ensure that your affairs are handled appropriately and according to local laws. With the right executor or trustee, you can rest assured that your estate will be managed with care and respect. 


How can I minimize estate taxes?

In the state of Michigan, there are several ways to minimize estate taxes. 

One way is to set up a trust or will as part of an estate plan. These documents can provide clear guidance on how assets should be distributed after death and allow for certain assets to be transferred without having them subjected to taxes. Additionally, trusts can also be used to protect assets from creditors, lawsuits, and other legal liabilities. 

Another way is by taking advantage of any exemptions that may apply. In Michigan, estates valued under $10,000 don't have to pay any estate tax at all. Additionally, spouses are exempt from paying any estate taxes on their deceased partner's property- this means that if one spouse dies, the other does not have to pay any estate taxes on the inheritance they receive. 

Gifting property and investments can also help reduce an estate's tax burden. Michigan allows individuals to gift up to $15,000 per year (or $30,000 for couples filing jointly) without that amount being subject to any taxes. For gifts over this amount, a federal form must be filled out and the donor is subject to paying a 40% tax rate on those amounts. 

Finally, life insurance policies can be used as part of an estate plan to provide additional funds for paying off any estate taxes that do apply after death. Life insurance policies are not taxed when received by beneficiaries if certain requirements are met- such as issuing a policy before the insured turns 70 and a five-year ownership period. 

By taking advantage of these strategies, individuals in Michigan can significantly reduce the amount of estate taxes they or their heirs must pay after death. 

It is important to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure all necessary documents are established and any exemptions that apply are considered throughout the process. This will help minimize the amount of tax burden that needs to be paid upon passing away.

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"Cris and his staff were incredibly competent and professional. I had some complicated issues that they easily resolved and explained to me in a way that I understood."

TOM SIMMONS

Cristopher Hogan and his team di Cristopher Hogan did an excellent job on my estate plan, will, trust. The whole 9 yards. I Highly recommend Hogan and his experienced team !

Kristen Colby

Positive: Professionalism , Responsiveness Hogan and his associates really worked hard for me. I never had a question that they didn't answer. This is the only Legal team I'll use.

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Very helpful. Chris knows his stuff. Sue is very helpful and gets things done. I recommend.

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