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Living Trust Attorneys in Waterford, Michigan

Most modern estate plans include a trust instrument. This is because the primary goal of the estate plan — to avoid probate court — is well-served through the use of a trust.

There are many types of trust documents, tailored by the estate planning lawyer to fit the client’s needs. For example, a married couple with a net worth of less than two million dollars will implement a very different trust document than a single person with a net worth of less than $500,000. An experienced living trust lawyer can customize the provisions of your trust.

Types of Trusts

Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. It is important to know that even revocable trusts become irrevocable upon the occurrence of certain triggering events, such as the death of a settlor or a grantor.

Trusts are flexible instruments governed by special provisions contained in the 2010 Michigan Trust Code. A trust is basically a contract between the settlor -the person making the trust- and the trustee. This contract governs the powers and duties of the trustee. In a typical estate plan, the settlors and the initial trustees are one and the same. It is only when a settlor dies that the trust provisions kick into gear. Until then, the settlor is free to make amendments to the trust instrument and to manage trust assets and spend trust funds within his or her discretion.

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Serving as a trustee is an important responsibility. A trustee is charged with knowing the provisions of the Michigan Trust Code. In addition, the trustee must also be familiar with the character and identity of beneficiaries, the powers and duties granted to the trustee, and with any limitations set forth in the trust instrument.

The best way to prosecute a trustee’s duties is for the trustee to be proactive toward those duties and to stay on top of all events that affect the trust assets and the designated beneficiaries of the trust. Many trustees find it helpful, even necessary, to hire an attorney that specializes in trust administration.

Planned Giving

A great way to enrich the community is to include one of the outstanding local educational or religious institutions in your estate plan.  These institutions often depend on charitable giving to fulfill their missions, and have representatives who can help make the most of your planned gift.

They can be included as beneficiaries to life insurance, IRAs, Wills and Trusts, real estate, or personal property, and can made in many different ways:

  • Fixed or proportional amounts from your trust or estate: “$10,000 upon my death,” “25 percent of my estate,” or $10,000 each to my children and the remainder to my alma mater.”

  • Conditional gifts: “All my estate to my spouse if they are living, otherwise to my alma mater.”

  • Life estates and remainder interests: “My spouse may reside in 123 Main St for the remainder of her life, and then it shall be deeded to my alma mater” or “my 40 acres up north for my children’s use during their lives, then to my alma mater.”

  • Specific gifts within the institution: “25 percent of my estate to the athletic department of my alma matter.”

We are here to help develop these plans and can work with the institution of your choice, at your direction.

Contact Clarkston Legal for your Living Trust

If you are nominated or are currently serving as a trustee, if you and your spouse are interested in creating an estate plan, or if you are a single individual looking to consider your testamentary options relative to a testamentary trust, contact Clarkston Legal to schedule a free consultation.