Estate Planning: Is It Important to Talk to Your Children About Your End of Life Plan?

Estate planning is a vital part of creating a plan of action for your untimely passing or inability to care for yourself.  Creating a will and/or a trust is not good enough when it comes to preparing for your future.  Instead, creating an estate plan allows you to plan for and organize your assets while appointing a person of your choosing to continue to organize and maintain your assets when you are no longer able to handle these things yourself or are not there to do so.

In the process of estate planning it is necessary to inform the people affected by your estate plan of your desires.  It is important to discuss your desires with your children about the details of your wishes so that they are aware of what to expect.  If your children are under the age of eighteen there should be a detailed discussion about guardianship.  Appointing a guardian requires consent from the willing party as well.  These people need to be conscious of your choices regarding their inheritance, financial expenses, funeral expenses, power of attorney, and more.

Discussing Your Estate Plan with Your Children

A discussion with your children about estate planning with your children helps to ensure that they are not surprised by the final plan.  Sharing your plan of action becomes especially important if you are planning on treating the beneficiaries differently.  Not only will this allow you to smooth out rising controversies, it will also help to give you their perspective on your decisions. A prime example occurs a lot during second marriages.  When you are giving something substantial to your spouse, who is not the mother of your children, from an inheritance that they assume is theirs this will help to give them a head start to wrap their thinking around it.

When and How to Talk with Your Children

It is crucial to find an appropriate time to make your estate plan known to your children and other necessary family members.  Make sure when you are discussing this matter that everyone involved in accounted for during this meeting.    Appropriate timing usually doesn’t exit on family holidays, weddings, or birthday celebrations.  What you will want to do is to schedule a meeting where you can all be gathered together to discuss your end of life plan specifically.  Sometimes, when an estate plan is complicated, it is best to meet with your estate planning attorney so that they can help you explain any areas of concern or technicalities to your loved ones.  When you are scheduling this meeting give participants an idea of what you are meeting about so that they have time to think about what to expect.

What to Talk About with Your Family

It is of the utmost importance for you to organize the points you want to discuss when talking to your family about the estate plan.  Be sure to talk with your attorney to discuss in depth your estate plan.  Understand the ins and outs before your meeting.  Gather the information about your assets, liabilities, debts, insurance plans, bonds, investment securities, business plans (if applicable), and important contacts phone numbers.

Give them the opportunity to give their feedback to your plan; listen to their suggestions on making your estate plan better, if needed.  This is also the perfect time to start discussing the need for your children to create their own estate plans to secure any future grandchildren’s futures as well.  Death is inevitable, and it is better to be prepared in case of an untimely passing.

Estate planning is a necessary and advisable step in your life’s journey. You should consider planning for your end of life before your meet any calamity and are robbed of this opportunity. It will not only safeguard your family and your assets but will be a help to smoothen the life and misery of your loved ones when you will not be around to take care of them.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

What Happens If You Pass Away Without A Plan in Place?

No one likes to consider their mortality which often leads to the issue of individuals passing away without putting into place an estate plan, will, trust, or other legal documentation to distribute their assets.  Many times, people assume that they are too young to need an estate plan in place, that their assets are not worth the creation of a plan, or that getting this documentation in place is expensive.  These assumptions are in fact not true.  Obviously, the best time to document a plan to follow upon your death is far before the need to use it arises.  These plans encompass far more than just distributing your assets and tax avoidance.

Estate plans are put in place not only to be your voice upon your passing but also so that if you become incapacitated and are no longer able to make decisions for yourself that you can appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf.  If you have not appointed an individual to make choices on your behalf, then the state will step in.  If this occurs, your desires are left unknown and the state will step in to take over the process which is known as intestacy.

Intestacy rules vary from state to state.  In general, however, the distribution of assets by intestacy requires a probate proceeding.  Most families hope to avoid probate when a family member passes as it is costly, time consuming, and open to the public.  It is also frowned upon as there is no way for the state to know what your desires would have been so your assets are distributed as they see fit.

If you do not have proper documentation in place and become incapacitated a judge will decide for you who will be in charge of you and your assets.  This process is known as guardianship and conservatorship.  It can be quite an expensive for your family even if there isn’t a disagreement on your care or asset distribution.  It can often cost more than what would have been paid to have in place a proper estate plan.

In order to avoid this situation, it is crucial to take the appropriate steps which can include an all-inclusive estate plan with a living trust and power of attorney in place.  This ensures that if you become disabled or pass away the division of your assets along with your desired wished-for care are known by your family and easily executed without burdening your family.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

Five Common Mistakes Made In Estate Planning

As a society we tend to put discussions on topics we deem uncomfortable on the back burner often times until its too late.  This is often that case when people become unable to take care of themselves sooner than imagined or die unexpectedly. The topic of death or not being able to take care of oneself are awkward and often make the people involved anxious however, these discussions are necessary.

Estate planning is important for all adults; which includes any person eighteen and over.  Individuals need to legally render control over their assets and medical decisions to beneficiaries that will be in charge of handling the decision making that comes after death.  This person, or individuals, will be in charge of wrapping up your lives details including money in your bank account, selling your home, paying off your debts, distributing assets, and closing out accounts.  This can all be done through an estate plan that is created in conjunction with an attorney.  An estate planning lawyer will help you avoid the common mistakes that are often found in estate planning.

Not Planning at All

Not having an estate plan in place is one of the biggest mistakes that most individuals will make.  Failing to have in place legal documents that lay out the plan you have in mind for life after your death, for whatever reason, is a huge mistake.  Fact is, death is inevitable and unpredictable.  This is not a pleasant thought however we can make our passing easier on loved ones by setting a plan in place to ensure that the distribution of your assets is hassle free.


This is the scenario whereby an individual keep saying that he is soon doing an estate plan but keeps on moving the time in which they should do it back further and further. No one knows when eventualities will occur. When you least expect something to happen is when it most often.  It is therefore important to set a time frame to create your estate plan and be disciplined enough to stick to it.

Not Updating the Estate Plan

It could be that when one was doing estate planning, the family was still small. With time, children are born, issues like divorce and deaths occur and other family matters. When an individual fails to update the plan, this may result into complications in future and especially after the death of the owner. It is crucial with every major change that your estate plan is updated.  Once a year an estate plan review should be scheduled with your attorney to go over any and all changes over the course of the year or expected changes.

Not Finding the Best Legal Advice

Not everyone understands the law provisions for estate planning. Lots of individuals think that they can just write down what they want to happen and that the law will automatically respect your wishes.  However, this is not how probate works.  In order to be sure that the events playout after your death as you desire you need a competent attorney, specializing in estate planning, to offer legal advice and to assist you in creating a viable plan of action.

Not Finding the Right Beneficiaries

Some people give the names of their kids as their beneficiaries, but this may not work out well in future. Others think that their spouses are the best beneficiaries. It is of great importance that one keenly takes time to understand the right beneficiaries during estate planning, who will take care of his properties while he is gone and that will be in a position after your passing to do so.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.


The Basics of Michigan Estate Planning

When you are alive and happily leading your life, you don’t have any concerns about what might happen to your assets if you are not there to own them. This isn’t carelessness, this is an oversight that can be avoided. Estate planning is what mitigates all the feuds between your beneficiaries and everything bad that is going to happen if you’re incapable of owning your assets. To efficiently carry it out, there are estate planning attorneys that can help you in devising documents and can carry you through the whole process without letting you delve into many complexities.

A probate lawyer is all you need if you’re finally thinking about naming your beneficiaries. However, before hiring any of them, make sure he or she doesn’t only focus on the documentation after your death, but also during your life.

There are six basic estate planning documents that any attorney or lawyer would carry you through.

  1. Last Will and Testament

While others might tell you that proper planning contains only trusts (explained below), we stress the importance of the last will and testament in guiding the process of asset ownership. Your will is the most basic document that decides whether your assets would do in the direction of the trust or not after they experience probate. Therefore, making it a part of your plan is necessary.

  1. Trusts

This category of documents includes two types:

Revocable living trust:

It is a document that can allow a family to avoid any kind of probate and directly be the head figures of control over the property left by you.

Castle Trust:

Besides immunity against probate and control of the assets, the castle trust also gives protection to the assets of the person who creates it; thus, protecting him or her against lawsuits.

  1. Power of Attorney (POA)

The above-stated two types of documents are mainly used for after-death decisions. However, when it comes to regulating or appointing someone as your replacement during your ailment, Financial Power of Attorney can enable you that. It is a document that gives the power of making financial decisions, paying bills, and manage other assets to the one that has been appointed instead of you.

However, upon the death of the owner, the scope of this document diminishes completely. Only then, your will and the trust would come into play.

4) Medical Power of Attorney (MPOA)

Also called a patient advocate designation, the medical power of attorney is a document that grants someone the power of taking medical decisions instead of you.

The life-span of this document is just like the one explained above, it finishes with the death of the owner.

5) Personal Care Plan

Having POA, or MPOA are two necessary things when you are ailing or are near to death. However, it is paramount for you to first draft out a personal care plan that includes instructions based on your intentions to guide how the two documents would work.

6) House Deed

Lastly, there is house deed. It is a document that legally proves the ownership of your house. Although they are in the public land records, they offer complete guidance on the fate of your property after you are no more.

As you can see, estate planning overall is fairly complex.  You should know that even a single mistake in the overall process can prove unhealthy for your beneficiaries. Therefore, if you want the future of your assets to be secured, all you’d have to do is hire an estate planning attorney or a probate lawyer in Michigan.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.

Common Estate Planning Myths

We have all seen it on TV or heard about a well-to-do individual who unexpectedly dies without leaving a valid will, trust, or estate plan consequently leaving the court to dictate how the deceased’s assets are distributed to his or her living heirs. When individuals pass away without leaving an official will, their property or estate must be distributed according to the rules of intestacy where only married, civil partners, immediate children or some other close relatives can inherit the property.

Protecting Your Assets

However, if someone has a will, but it is not legally valid, probate will decide how the assets are divided and not the wishes stated in the will. Which is why you need an estate planning attorney who can help you in creating an estate plan, among other things such as avoiding probate and reducing estate taxes. It is also important to seek the advice of an estate planning attorney to ensure that your beneficiaries are protected from creditor problems, bad decision making or outside influences.

Having someone in charge after you die will also protect your assets from unexpected creditors and go a long way towards avoiding family feuds and costly probate court proceedings. It’s important to have probate lawyer so that your family members can have some security in the event of your passing, especially when you fear that disputes may arise from the disposition of property.

After all the, it is the probate lawyer who prepares and files a petition for the final will distribution. He or she can also liaise with your attorney to handle non-probate issues that require legal attention, such as obtaining payment of life insurance, payment of annuities as well as handling subsidiary probate if any property is owned in another state.

Common Estate Planning Myths:

Are you a victim of the following estate planning myths and misconceptions?

I’m Too Young for Estate Planning

Someone as young as 20 years can have a will. Therefore, starting your estate planning while you’re still young and keeping it updated regularly will keep your assets free from legal complications in the event of incapacity or death.

I Don’t Need an Attorney to do Probate

You do because the procedural requirements for probates are complex and handing the task of preparing a detailed estate plan to a personal representative will alleviate an enormous burden on you. Besides, your estate planning documents rendered invalid due to errors when you do it yourself.

I’m not Wealthy

All adults who have children or own any property or assets should plan for incapacity and death regardless of the value of their estate.

The Court Can Correct a Bias Will

Even if a will benefits one person or sibling more than the other, the court is not authorized to revise a deceased Will provided he or she executed a valid will in the first place. You may also have a revocable living trust, however, making a will is the best way to transfer guardianship of minors.

Contact Us

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.


An Estate Plan Is Needed Even If You Do Not Have Children

Individuals with children usually create an estate plan as the result of advice from financial advisor and estate attorney.  This is due to a sense of urgency and need to ensure there is a laid down plan to cater for the needs of their children in the event of an untimely demise. On the other hand, those without children tend to ignore the importance of having an estate plan, either because they feel it is not necessary or because they feel there is still a lot of time. Whatever the case, it is still importance to create an estate plan that will ensure the protection of your valued assets before and after your death.

You Determine Where Your Assets Go

When you are married with children, it is easy to solve the puzzle of who controls your assets even if that must be settled in court. However, if you fail to create an estate plan, you would be allowing the government to decide what to do with your assets when you pass away. The state courts will determine what happens to your assets in this case dying intestate. Even if you may not have children, you may want to share some of your valued assets with a charitable organization, religious body, a local support group, a foundation you create to award deserving students with scholarships, and other incentives. This will only be possible when you create an estate plan.

Crucial Medical Decisions

In the event of a car accident or a sudden illness that leaves you in an unstable condition, unable to decide the best medical procedure you prefer, you would want someone that can stand in. If you have an immediate family member or children, this responsibility easily falls their way. However, in the absence of an immediate family and without any healthcare directives or information regarding your willingness to accept certain procedures such as donation of organs, specialists are required to carry out only the typical medical care to sustain life. This procedure may involve keeping you on life-saving machines which could massively affect your hard-earned assets. You can never tell tomorrow’s possibilities, so it is important to create an estate plan as it can prevent a catastrophic situation in future.

Choosing a Professional

Although it is possible to create an estate plan without the help of a legal source, it might be ideal and in your best interest to work with an estate planning attorney to ensure the security and legality of the document and to avoid any issues in future. Even if you do not have children, an estate plan is an invaluable asset to make sure your desires are known.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.


Risks of Not Having an Estate Plan

Don’t have an estate plan for your estate? Are you under the impression that such plans only exist for those with large estates that are well off? If this is your assumption it is false and holds no merit. In fact, an estate plan is the best thing you can do, no matter how large or small your estate is, to ensure the safety of your property, and the well-being of your loved ones. An estate plan is the best way to protect your assets from probate laws. In fact, not having an estate plan subjects your property to several risks and hazards. The following are a few harmful risks of not having an estate plan:

Asset Distribution

The main aspect of a will, trust, or an estate plan is asset distribution. With your estate plan you can tell your family and the law just how you want your property to be divided. If you do not declare the method in which your property is supposed to be divided, the court simply passes on the property to your closest relatives, spouse, and children respectively. This can lead to a number of conflicts arising amongst your family, especially if you have been married more than once or if you are divorced. Thus, to ensure that your assets are properly distributed you need to make an estate plan.

End-of-Life Care

An estate plan is not just concerned with property and asset distribution, it can be utilized for dictating your healthcare during your final days or during illnesses. Often, many people are incapacitated by illnesses in their final days and cannot properly make their opinions and demands heard. Using an estate plan, those affected by illnesses such as Alzheimer’s can dictate their family and friends and let them know their wishes through power of attorney. An estate plan ensures that you are not helpless and that you dictate your life even at the very end.

Challenges caused by probate laws

Probate laws deal with the changing ownership of property and every single dealing that goes into the changing of owners. Without an estate plan, the probate courts will seize your property and subject them to probate laws while your heirs helplessly look on. With an estate plan you will be able to give a proper outline or blueprint about how your property is supposed to be handled. Wills and estate plans might not exempt your assets from estate laws but forming trusts can. The execution of a trust as part of an estate plan is a huge step in ensuring your heirs get what you want them to.

Don’t have an estate plan yet? If not, you should get one as quickly as possible. We never know where life might lead us, and it is better to be prepared for adverse occurrences beforehand. Create your estate plan immediately to make sure that your assets are handled the way you want them to. An estate plan helps you dictate your own life right to the very end.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.


Avoid these Costly Mistakes by Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney

In order to pass your estate along to your deserving heirs it is important that you choose a family law attorney to help you draw up an estate plan to avoid extra taxes and probate when you do pass.  An experienced and trusted estate planning lawyer will help to ensure that your assets are distributed properly upon your passing.  They will also be an important part of putting in place a medical power or attorney, POW, just in case you become unable to make decisions regarding your care before your passing.

The process of finding an attorney that is qualified to help you can bequite daunting.  It is however impertitive to the success of transferring your assets upon your passing.  The right attorney will not let you make the mistakes that many people commonly make when creating an estate plan.  There are serious blunders that can be made that should be avoided to create an easy transition of estate upon your passing or if you should become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself.

Avert Common Misconceptions

Many people think that hiring the services of an estate planning lawyer is only for the rich and affluent.  This however is so far from reality.  Proper preparations for distribution of properties is essential.  Everyone has assets of one kind or another be it real estate, investments, personal belongings,and more.   You do not have to be rich in order to own assets that you will want distributed to your family without the hassle and expense that can come from probate.

Regardless of your financial assets, it is beneficial to have an estate plan in place to distribute your assets.  Asset distribution can be more efficient using a professional lawyer.  An attorney can help reduce the taxes to ensure a smooth transition of these assets to your beneficiaries. The idea is to make sure that your properties are transferred according to your wishes and not determined by a court.

Initial Arrangements

When seeking an estate planning attorney, there are certain things you would want to ask first. Know what the service charges are and what are the best proceedings in place to be applied to reduce tax requirements. Also, check to see if there are any apparent problems with your wishes among the beneficiaries and how best to make these arrangements.

A will or trust may be needed to be updated after the initial draft of your estate plan. So, make sure that you understand about the process. Your lawyer should be provided as much information as possible, which will make it easier to prepare your estate plan. Discuss your bank account information, insurance, pension and retirement plans, debt list, etc. with the attorney during the process.

Seek Attorney References

The best way to look for an estate planning lawyer is to ask for references. Use the help of attorneys, financial advisors, or even the local bar association to find out about professionals near you. Look for advertisements that offer relevant information. A good resort can be to look up online and visit the websites of local attorneys in your area. Professional attorneys will have a proper website with adequate information regarding their service. You may even find testimonials of satisfied customers that have sought real estate planning of their properties.

The power of a good estate planning attorney will help plan your assets well for the time when it comes to distributing your properties among the beneficiaries. A specialist in the field will be the best choice for the job.

Benefits of Gifting Assets

One of the most prominent benefits of segregating your properties is to reduce estate taxes. Once these assets are distributed, they cease to hold against the value of the estate. Hence, taxes levied are comparatively much less. Another advantage is that a capable attorney will remove the hassles that your beneficiaries may have to bear related to paying taxes, litigation, and other additional expenses.

The biggest benefit however is the peace of mind that the asset owner gets by appointing an estate planning lawyer to handle the task of distribution. Knowing that your beneficiaries will not have to face tedious legal issues to claim their rights will be quite a relief.

By incorporating a proper will in place with the legal documents to specify the rightful heir to your property, you will be able to receive the opportunity to determine who acquires which of your assets. An estate planning attorney will help you greatly in the process so you can be rest assured that your belongings get distributed in the proper way as per your desire.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.


The Important of Updating Existing Estate Plans Going into a New Year

Managing legal issues of any kind can be difficult but especially those dealing with the passing of a loved one and probate.  The issues that can arise in these situations often cost a good deal of time and money to establish their outcome.  Although these situations should be avoided with an up to date estate plan in place this is not always the case. We get busy and what was once true and current can often become dated and murky.

Estate Planning Attorney

Hiring an attorney that specializes in family law while focusing on elder care, estate planning, and probate law can often help in ensuring that upon your passing your estate is distributed without issue.  However, if there is an issue they will understand how to help your family to avoid time consuming, costly legal battles.

To avoid issues that can arise upon your untimely passing or inability to take care of yourself any longer you need to have an updated estate plan in place.  There are a million and ten reasons that an estate plan can become outdated therefore it is important going into a new year to look at what is in place and make the updates that are needing.

Life Is Full Of Change

There may be major reason in your life including changes in the law, family changes including divorce, marriage, death and more, personal decisions, and more.  Documents within your estate plan also can become outdated.  Another scenario that often comes up are with the sub trusts and the federal tax exemption and portability which are a new concept.

Federal tax is assessed on the descendent and their estate for any amount larger than the exemption that is allowed upon death.  The estate and gift tax exemption for 2017 is 5.49 million per individual.  It is also important to think about relationship changes within the family; were there any marriages, divorces, births, deaths, adoptions, and so forth.  These changes to your family should be accessed and modified as seen fit.  Keeping an up to date, crystal clear, plan for your estate will ensure an easier transition for your family upon you passing.  The last thing that people want during the grieving process is to process issues arising from improper planning.

Updating Your Legal Documents

There are several reasons to update wills and trusts, estate plans, beneficiary information, and so forth.  No one likes to think about it, but your passing can happen without any notice.  In case of your untimely passing it is important to ensure that estate ends up in the hands of the beneficiaries you desire.

To guarantee that this is the case it is important to have a plan in place that is regularly reviewed and updated by an attorney specializing in family law and estate planning.  Having an attorney that is up to date on the current laws regarding inheritance, real estate, transfers of ownership, and the working of the courts in all things related to probate as they can make sure the documentation is valid and the changes that are completed are done so according to local and federal laws.

There are times when you have in your mind about changing the estate plan but due to your ignorance you do not complete the task. In such situation if a serious condition or death occurs then it becomes difficult to manage your estate plan. It is always important that you never let anyone know what you want them to have and simply get it done to the estate documents.

Make Yearly Reviews A Necessity

It is important to make changes as you see fit however we all know how life gets in the way.  Make sure to get in at least once a year around the New Year without exception.  There is no meaning in waiting for the time to come. It is important that you complete this task as quick as it is possible for you so that you get peace of mind. If you are not having a plan, then you should meet your estate planning attorney in New Year and plan. You should get the documents ready as soon as possible. If you have assets, then you should get some beneficiaries added to it.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols, call 734.386.0224 today.