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It’s Here! End-of-Year Estate Planning Checklist for Michigan Residents

Brighton, MI (December 27, 2017) Relaxing before you enter the New Year? The winter holidays are a wonderful time of year, but we often overlook or avoid doing some of the more mundane tasks that we need to do at the end of each year to protect our future and our family.

“One of the important tasks that we all need to do each year is reviewing our estate plans,” stated Christopher J. Berry, Esq., CELA, Founder of The Elder Care Firm and The CJ Berry Group. “Our Michigan estate planning attorneys want to help you check off this item on your to-do list, so you can continue to enjoy the season with family and friends.”

A Year of Changes

Our lives are fluid and sometimes we have several major life events during the year. It is very important that you look back over the year and identify any events that could potentially impact your estate plan. Some of the events that could affect one or more of your estate planning documents include:

  • A Change in Marital Status — Did you get married or finalize your divorce during 2017? Getting married or divorced has a significant impact on estate plans. You need to review your estate plan as soon as possible.
  • A Change in Residence — Did you move to another state this year? If so, the probate laws in your new state might be slightly different from the state where your documents were drafted.
  • The Birth of a Child — It is easy to forget that you need to change your will and other estate documents when you are busy as new parents. However, now is the time to designate a guardian and trustee in case something happens to you. You want to take all steps necessary to protect your child.
  • A Change in Assets — Did you acquire a substantial asset during 2017? A significant change in assets can warrant a close review of how you distributed your property through your estate plan. Examples of changes in assets you might want to review include new financial accounts, purchase of real estate, changes in retirement plans, changes to a new or existing trust, changing jobs, and changes in life insurance.
  • The Death of a Beneficiary — Losing a loved one is difficult, and the last thing on your mind may be your estate plan. However, if you do not change your plan, any inheritance you left for this person will pass to his or her heirs. While this option might not be a problem, it is still good to look at your plan now, so you control what happens after your death.
  • Changes in Trustees, Guardians, Or Executors — Various circumstances may change who you want to appoint to take care of your children, manage your finances, or administer your estate if you die or become incapacitated. It can be good to review the people you have selected to handle these matters on a regular basis to ensure these individuals are still the people you trust the most to carry out your instructions and desires.
  • Changes in State and/or Federal Laws — During the year, state and federal tax laws may change. Some of these laws could impact your estate plans. Our Michigan estate planning attorneys can review your estate documents with you to make sure that any changes in the tax law do not negatively impact your estate plans.
  • Revisions to Your Retirement Plans — Your retirement plans can have a significant impact on your estate plans. If you made any changes to your retirement plans during 2017, you also need to review your estate plans to make any corresponding changes that are needed to meet your retirement goals and ensure your final wishes are honored.
  • Safe Deposit Box Rentals — It is very easy to forget this change, but extremely important that you do not forget. You need to change your estate documents to reflect that you have a safe deposit box and direct what should happen to the contents of that box upon your death or incapacitation.
  • Online Accounts and Passwords — For security, you should change your passwords and security questions several times a year. Because it is important for your administrators to have access to this information, you need to make sure that your list of usernames and passwords are up-to-date.

Our entire staff wishes you and your family a happy holiday season. If you need assistance with estate planning, Medicaid planning, or retirement planning, we invite you to contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. Call 888-390-4360 or use the contact form on our website to contact if we can be of any assistance.

About Christopher J. Berry, Esq., CELA and The CJ Berry Group

Attorney Berry is the only Certified Elder Law Attorney in Livingston County, one of a handful in Oakland County, and one of just 17 in all of Michigan. He was the second youngest lawyer in the nation to achieve the designation of Certified Elder Law Attorney, which is the gold standard for elder law attorneys.

In addition to founding The Elder Care Firm, he is an adjunct professor at WMU Cooley Law School, where he teaches 2nd and 3rd-year law school students elder law as well as the author of “The Caregiver’s Legal Guide to Planning for a Loved One with Chronic Illness.” Plus, he is the originator of The Castle Trust, which is an asset protection trust where you can remain in control of your assets.

Due to his law firm’s national recognition, attorneys across the nation have hired Attorney Berry as a consultant and coach for their law practices. Learn More About Christopher J. Berry, Esq., CELA and The Elder Care Firm

About Christopher J. Berry, JD., CELA

Christopher J. Berry, JD., CELA is the founder of two interrelated companies that provide financial services and legal services to Michigan families. Chris is the founding President of a law firm that does estate and elder law planning (The Elder Care Firm). The second company is a firm that provides holistic wealth, estate and tax planning for clients using a client-centered best-interest process (The CJ Berry Group). The companies are located in Metro-Detroit. Christopher J. Berry is a nationally-recognized estate and financial planning expert, quoted in publications like Kiplinger's Retirement. Chris Berry is an invited presenter for some of the world’s top financial companies, money managers and industry associations such as Northwestern Mutual, Mass Mutual, John Hancock, Michigan Association of CPA's, Society of Financial Service Professionals, Financial Planning Association and the Institute of Continued Legal Education, to name a few.Nationwide, Merrill Lynch, Transamerica, Jackson National, Morgan Stanley, American Institute of CPAs, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and several Financial Planning Associations. Christopher Berry is the author of The Caregiver's Legal Guide to Planning for a Loved one with Chronic Illness. Additionally, Chris Berry has co-authored two other books Tax-Free Money for Long-term Care and Protect My IRA: Avoid the 5 Common Mistakes.
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