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Located in Battle Creek, MI   269-964-5080
Our team is dedicated to providing you the highest quality  legal service with absolute confidently in a professional, attentive, and positive environment.

Wills / Trusts / Probate Estates

Experienced Estate Planning

An effective estate plan can protect your assets, ensure your wishes are carried out upon your death, and provide for those you love after you are gone. Which is better for you, a will or a trust? It depends. What happens if you don’t have a will or a trust? It depends. Once you have a will or a trust, are you set forever? It depends. 

Estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. By putting a solid and comprehensive estate plan in place, excessive costs, fees, and taxes may be avoided providing a smooth transition for your loved ones.

Wills - A last will and testament (will) is a legal document which lays out particular stipulations regarding what will happen upon death. Any person 18-years-of-age or older may create a will. This document may be a cost effective way to indicate a person’s specific wishes regarding his or her property, assets, and family. 

When created properly, a will is a legally binding document which will be upheld in probate court following the person’s death. Although an attorney is not necessary to create a will, it is highly recommended. 

Because a will is a legally binding document, it is important that it is laid out correctly so the decedent’s wishes are followed to the letter. If the wording is off or if the document is drafted or signed improperly, there is a chance that it may be held as invalid by the probate court.

Trusts – A trust is set up to manage the distribution and availability of assets from the person who has created the trust (grantor). It may be created through a will which is known as a testamentary trust. 

The trust acts much like a will in that they both accomplish the goal of setting forth a person’s specific wishes as to distribution of assets upon death; however, a trust also controls the management of assets prior to death. A trust also allows for the determination of the person that will manage the trust (trustee). Setting up a trust may eliminate taxes as well as the need for probate of a will upon death. 

A trust can make the transfer of ownership of property and assets less cumbersome upon death.

Our team has the experience and dedication to partner with you in developing an estate plan designed to meet your needs and provide you with peace of mind.

Due to the extensive nature of planning for your future and beyond and the law involved, this subject is best left to an in-depth discussion with your attorney. Contact the Law Office of Cindy L. Thomas to schedule your no obligation consultation. You will receive personalized and sensitive care from our empathetic attorney.

Learn About Powers of Attorney

The greatest benefit in planning for your future may be controlling the quality of your life. Powers of attorney, both the Durable Power of Attorney and the Power of Attorney for Health Care, allow you to choose trusted individuals to act as your agent and make decisions on your behalf, allowing the quality of your life to continue the same as if you were making your own decisions. 

A power of attorney typically takes effect upon your physical or mental incapacitation and remains effective throughout the period of your incapacitation and terminates upon your death. 

Durable Power of Attorney – allows a person (principal) to appoint another person (agent or attorney–in-fact) to make ongoing financial decisions. Typically, the designated agent is authorized through the durable power of attorney to handle virtually any financial matter for the benefit of the principal including buying or selling of real estate, exercising banking powers, making elections on insurance or retirement plans, filing and preparing tax returns, entering into contracts, running a business, or conducting any type of activity the principal could have conducted if not incapacitated. 

Power of Attorney for Health Care – allows a person (principal) to appoint another person (agent or attorney-in-fact or patient advocate) to make ongoing medical decisions. Typically, the designated agent is authorized through the power of attorney for health care to make virtually any medical decision for the benefit of the principal including making funeral arrangements, making anatomical gifts, ability to employ and discharge medical providers, releasing access to medical records, consenting or refusal to consent to medical care, protecting principal’s right of privacy, acquiescing to provide principal with relief from pain, or any other medical related decision the principal could have made if not incapacitated.
 

Due to the extensive nature of planning for your incapacity and the law involved, this subject is best left to an in-depth discussion with your attorney.

Plan for Probate Estates

With proper planning, probate estates can be avoided. However, if a loved one dies without proper estate planning or chooses not to avoid probate, the family will likely be required to undergo a probate proceeding. 

Probate is a court procedure where a deceased person’s assets are administered to ensure that creditors are paid, rights of beneficiaries are protected, and estate assets are appropriately distributed. If probate is necessary, the court will appoint a personal representative to manage the estate. 

The personal representative’s duties are extensive and must be carried out in accordance with Michigan law and it is essential the personal representative be represented by competent legal counsel who has extensive experience in dealing with these matters.

We represent personal representatives on a regular basis and ensure they carry out their obligations in compliance with required laws and legal procedures. We are well-versed in managing probate estates and our goal is to ensure our clients move the estate swiftly and efficiently through the probate process.

Due to the extensive nature of planning for your future and beyond and the law involved, this subject is best left to an in-depth discussion with your attorney.

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