John D. Erdevig, Attorney. Wills

Leaving a will
is a gift in itself
to your survivors.

A will is a roadmap for your loved ones and professionals, enabling them to carry out your wishes and administer your estate with less guesswork, conflict and red tape. A will does not avoid probate (the filing of a petition in local probate court). However, it tends to make it easier … at times, easy enough for a lay-person in Ann Arbor / Washtenaw County to open and distribute an estate with minimal legal advice or representation.

Your will allows you to name the trusted person who will administer your estate (Personal Representative / “executor”), as well as a Guardian and financial fiduciaries (Conservator / Trustee) for children. This last tool is helpful if small children or even young adults might inherit wealth or benefit from life insurance at an age when they might not be able to handle it.

Your will says how you want your various property distributed. Note: You usually do not name every piece or kind of property you own in your will. You can name people or classes of recipients, in shares or in succession. You can make cash bequests to charities. You can leave a separate list of personal property and who will recieve certain items, and change the list periodically without the formailities of a will (e.g., no witness is required).

Legal plan coverage
for simple estate planning documents

Most common legal plans offered as an employment benefit cover simple wills, individual or couple.

Testamentary trusts (a contingent trust within a will) guarding funds for the support of dependent children through young adulthood, are covered. Probate-avoidance living trusts are covered, but are generally not cost-effective nor practical for John’s client population. Non-trust methods of minimizing probate involvement, cost and delay will be discussed. Tax advice and tax-avoidance drafting are not covered, and tax-sensitive matters will be referred out.

Many employment-based legal plans cover financial Powers of Attorney, to delay or avoid the need to obtain a conservatorship to manage an incompetent’s estate. Powers can become effective immediately (e.g. to allow a spouse to manage one’s affairs while one is absent from the country), or upon certification of two doctors that one cannot manage one’s own financial affairs, due to a medical condition.

Many employment-based legal plans cover a health care power, known in Michigan as a Designation of Patient Advocate. They also frequently cover “Living Will” Guidelines - Advance Health Care Directives, including end-of-life and funeral instructions.

John Erdevig encourages everyone with a legal plan to contact its administrators to learn more about what coverage is available and opportunities to persue these legal services.