A Simple Guide to Estate Planning: Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney

elderly couple

It is never too early to get started on an estate plan. In fact, many people are able to find peace of mind by laying out these plans early on in their lives. This allows them to enjoy life without having to worry about what may happen should tragedy strike. Remember: You can always revise your estate plan, but you can’t draft one posthumously.

An estate plan is made up of many parts, the most important of which are the will, trust, and power of attorney:

  • A will is a legal document that allows you to designate individuals or charities to receive your property and possessions when you pass away.
  • A trust is an equitable or beneficial right or title to land or other property, held for the beneficiary by another person, in who resides the legal title or ownership.
  • A power of attorney is a legal instrument authorizing another person to act as an agent or attorney of the person granting it.

Estate planning minimizes having to deal with the probate court, provides you and your family with privacy, and allows your property and assets to be disbursed according to your wishes.

The Benefits of Writing a Will

Writing a will is probably not a high priority for many people, partially because most people don’t like to discuss things about death. Still, a will is a very important part of life—it is essential for everyone.

Some people say a will is one of the best ways to protect your spouse and children. If you don’t have a will, your estate will be disbursed according to the law and without any consideration of your desires. A will can help ensure that your estate is disbursed how you want it, thereby preventing your family from getting stuck in probate court.

A will can also be the best way to make sure that your money and assets will be given to the person of your choosing. Generally, if a person doesn’t have a will, their immediate family—spouse, children, and parents—are awarded their assets. A will takes away any uncertainty, however.

Further, if you have children, you can determine who will be the guardian of your children in your will if you or your spouse should pass away.

With life comes change. You can amend your will at any time to accommodate those life changes, such as by adding a beneficiary, amending your marital status, etc.

Finding the Right Trust for You

A trust is a legal entity created by a party (the trustor) through which a second party (the trustee) holds the right to manage the trustor's assets or property for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary). There are many kinds of trusts, and it is best to consult an estate planning attorney when creating one.

The main types of trusts are:

  • Living
  • Testamentary
  • Revocable
  • Irrevocable
  • Funded
  • Unfunded

Every trust has its own purpose, but all trusts use the same structure.

Why Have a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a way to have another person handle your legal, medical, or financial affairs while you are away or unable to do so yourself because of incapacitation. If you don’t have a power of attorney and you become incapacitated, a conservatorship or guardianship may need to be established. The court would appoint someone to manage the legal, medical, or financial needs of the incapacitated person. The incapacitated person obviously won’t have any say as to who the court appoints to serve in such a capacity.

Providing Certainty in Uncertain Times

During the pandemic, a lot of people have not only thought about the importance of estate planning but have hired attorneys to create estate plans that work for them. An estate plan gives you control over how you want your affairs handled, as well as ensures that your loved ones can focus on coping with loss. Thus, it is a future present for yourself and your family.

Estate planning doesn’t have to be hard. At Grewal Law PLLC, our attorneys are skilled in helping Michigan residents plan for the future. Give us a call at (888) 211-5798 to book your free consultation today.


Estate Planning in the Pandemic Age: It’s time to Prepare for the Unexpected, Forbes October 23, 2020 by Cody Barbo, Fobes Councils Member