Estate planning is not something to put off until your golden years. People
of all ages can benefit from having an appropriate plan in place for their
assets, whether that plan consists of a simple will or more complex tools
for reducing tax burdens or protecting a family business.
At Willis Law, we provide skilled representation to individuals, couples
and families throughout Western Michigan, assisting them with all aspects
of estate planning. Our lawyers and staff provide attentive service and
focus on tailoring a plan to the unique circumstances and goals of each
Everyone Should Have an Estate Plan Organized With Assistance From a Legal
Whether you are a single person looking to create a will, a young couple
with children or you are approaching retirement, we can help you create
an estate plan that protects your interests, including a will, trusts
specific to your goals and other considerations unique to your situation.
Our firm handles an assortment of both simple and the most complex estate
planning matters and simple estate planning matters you need to be sure
to get right:
Pensions and Retirement Benefits
One of the factors that need to be taken into consideration for your estate
plan is how your pension benefits will be handled upon your death.
A pension is a regular payment made to you for past services rendered,
often after retirement or disability, when you are no longer earning a
regular income from employment. Pensions are often provided to company
employees, government employees and members of labor unions. They are
usually paid out on a deferred basis, which can provide tax advantages
to both employers and retirees.
Some Pension Plans Also Pay Benefits to Your Survivors
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires that retirement
plans have a survivor benefit, which allows the spouse of a participant
to receive vested benefits if the participant dies before retirement.
If you die after retirement and you are married, your spouse is also entitled
to a portion of your pension. However, this usually reduces the monthly
retirement payments you would have received if the benefits were to be
paid just during your lifetime.
Your spouse can agree to waive this survivor benefit protection. You may
also be able to name another person as your beneficiary, such as a child.
Other Important Reasons for Estate Planning
Other retirement benefits that require careful estate planning are:
- 401(k) accounts
- 403(b) accounts
- Profit sharing, or incentive plans in which a share of a company's
profits are typically accumulated in a tax-deferred account until an employee
retires or leaves the company
- IRA (individual retirement account)
- ESOP (employee stock ownership plan)
- PERS (public employees' retirement system pension)
Property Transfers and Estate Administration
Transferring real property requires skilled help to ensure the asset is protected and to ensure the
property is correctly passed according to your wishes. Our attorneys can
help you accomplish this by drafting quitclaim deeds (for those who wish
to retain no financial or legal interest in the property) or a warranty
deed (to warrant the property against liens and other ownership claims).
We also realize the difficulty many people have administering the estate
of a deceased loved one. The process itself can be quite complex, which
is why we offer services to simplify the process and settle the estate
for as little cost as possible. This includes notifying heirs and beneficiaries,
locating and valuing property in the estate, paying final debts, paying
final taxes and anything else that is required to finalize a person's affairs.
Elder Law Services
Elder planning is designed to protect the rights and interests of the elderly
population. Our attorneys provide comprehensive
elder law services to ensure men and women are set up for success during their twilight
years. This includes:
- Establishing advance health care directives and health care proxies (medical
powers of attorney)
- Drafting durable powers of attorney documents for financial purposes
- Setting up a living will to dictate the medical treatment you consent to
receive should you become unable to voice your wishes
nursing home planning
- Much more