Three Basic Documents That Every Parent Needs To Have

Will and Estate Planning

  1. WILL – Your Will is the document that makes sure that all of your things (your estate) get taken care of as you instruct. If you have children, this is the document that makes sure your children are taken care of as you want. In Michigan, after a person dies, their will is used as the official statement of what the person who died wants to happen to their stuff (their estate) and their children. You should have a will if you are an adult. However, if you have children YOU NEED TO HAVE A WILL!!
  2. DURABLE POWER of ATTORNEY – A Durable Power of Attorney is the document that allows your bills to be paid and other business of yours to be taken care of if your are ever unable to take care of things yourself. You pick out the person you want to trust with this power. The person you chose will not be able to use the Durable Power of Attorney unless two doctors confirm that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Once that happens though, the person you chose will be able to use the Durable Power of Attorney to make sure your daily business is taken care of. It is important to have one of these.
  3. DESIGNATION OF HEALTH ADVOCATE – The Designation of Health Advocate if the document where you pick out a person to make all of your health decision for you if you cannot do so yourself. Again, the person you chose will not be able to make decisions for you unless a doctor confirms that you are unable to do so by yourself. Once that is confirmed, the person you chose will be able to make health decisions for you. It is important that you discuss what you want them to do if things happen, because that person will decide what life saving treatment to go through and when to stop efforts to resuscitate. This is very important as well. This is the document that was missing in the Terry Schiavo matter that engulfed the nation a few years back. If she had picked out a health advocate and filled out the Designation of Health Advocate documentation, the whole situation would never have happened.
  4. TRUST – While you do not necessarily need a trust in order to make sure the basics are taken care of, you may want to have a trust put together if you want more privacy over your situation, or if you want to make sure that particular, special steps are followed in giving out your assets, or if you want to separate your assets from your personal finances. A “Trust” is a legal entity where you give ownership of your things over to the Trust, and the Trustee holds and spends the things (property or money) for the benefit of someone that you set up. Trusts are more involved that the three basic items discussed above, and also are more private because they are not processed through the Probate Court. That way, other people (even those you are close to) don’t have to know your business. As a result, Trusts are more expensive to set up initially. Although a Trust may save money after a person dies, because there is no probate court cost.

IN ANY EVENT, YOU CAN DOWNLOAD OUR ESTATE PLANNING QUESTIONAIRE.  Simply download the interactive PDF, fill in the required information and email it back to us and we can get started on your basic estate plan: a Will, Durable Power of Attorney and Designation of Health Advocate.

* If you are unable to save this PDF after filling it out (or have any other issues), you may just print it out and mail the completed form to:

Dan Burns Law
29 Pearl St NW
Suite 145
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


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