How A Common Estate Planning Mistake Cost A Metro Detroit Man $10,000s

What's the most expensive Estate Planning mistake people make?

They don’t have a legally written plan in place…
In fact, 60-70% of all Michigan families have no written Estate Plan in place.  
Unfortunately, if you die without a legally written plan, the government has its own plan for your family.
And it can be incredibly expensive…

A Long and Expensive Nightmare

We once had a client whose brother downloaded a “Do-It-Yourself” Will off of the internet.
Unfortunately, he never had the “Will” reviewed by an attorney and it wasn’t considered legally valid when he passed away.  
Unsure of what to do in this situation, the client came to us to help him navigate the complex Probate Court process.
It took 3.5 years (and $10,000s) fighting off legal challenges trying to prove his brother’s intentions to the court.
Most online “Will Factories” that offer these types of forms rarely mention this.
As part of the Probate process we were forced to declare his assets to the court.
When creditors and estranged relatives saw the size of the Estate, the claims against his Estate started flowing like a waterfall. 
Even worse, his brother had never updated his life insurance. The ex-wife, whom he had not spoken to in years, received a multi-million dollar payday. 
What was left of the Estate was gobbled up by filing costs, legal bills, and “inventory fees” (a fancy word for taxes). 
Almost nothing was left for the man’s family members that he had attempted to leave his assets to. 
Sadly, this is an all too common scenario. 

What Is Probate Court?

In Michigan, each county has its own Probate Court. The standard probate process takes a minimum of 5 months to complete. However, in our experience it generally takes 9 months to a year to resolve simple cases (and several years for contested cases as illustrated above).
Probate Court is a public legal process where a court has the authority to:
– Determine who will inherit your money and property after your death
– Choose who should manage your money and property
– Determine whether or not your Will is valid 
– Decide what property you legally own
– Make medical decisions for you if you’re incapacitated
– Decide whether you will be kept artificially on life support even if there’s no chance you will recover from a vegetative state
– Appoint a person to raise your children without your input
– Choose when your children will inherit your money and property
– Assess mandatory fees, and
– Conduct oversight

That's a lot to leave to chance and an immense burden for your family to bear during an emotionally difficult period of time after your passing...

How Can I Avoid Probate?

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, with some simple planning, you can avoid the relationship ending Probate Court battles and the expensive legal fees that come along with it.
We’ve been drafting Wills, Trusts, and Estate Plans for the past decade and can tell you that everyone’s family situation is unique and everyone’s planning needs are unique – which is why it’s usually best to consult with an experienced Estate Planning Attorney.
To help you, we offer free Estate Planning Consultations over the phone. In 15-30 minutes you can get all of your questions answered by a professional from the comfort of your own home. 
A relatively small investment compared to the tens of thousands of dollars you may lose in Probate Court…
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Written By Chris Atallah - Founder, Rochester Law Center, PLLC


Written By Chris Atallah - Founder, Rochester Law Center, PLLC

Chris Atallah is a licensed Michigan Attorney and the author of “The Ultimate Guide to Wills & Trusts – Estate Planning for Michigan Families”. Over that past decade, Chris has helped 1,000s of Michigan families and businesses secure their futures in all matters of Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning. He has taught dozens of seminars across the State of Michigan on such topics as avoiding the death tax, protecting minor children after the parents’ death, and preserving family wealth from the courts and accidental disinheritance. If you have any questions, Chris would be happy to answer them for you – just call at 248-613-0007.