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Wills & Estate Planning

Why should I choose Sterling Law for a will or estate planning or probate?


At Sterling Law, we have experience in guiding you through the probate court and in creating plans for individuals, couples, and families of all sorts. At Sterling Law, there is no "one size fits all." Contact us today to learn about your different options.  You can expect a short telephone intake and then your case will be referred to one of our estate planning or probate attorneys.

What is probate?


"Probate" is the term for the distribution by the probate court of the assets owned by a person in his or her name only. The assets that the decedent owns in his or her name at the time of passing is known as their "estate." To "probate" an "estate" is to take the estate through the Probate Court process to determine to whom to transfer the decedent's property. Creditors must also be notified so that the decedent's final expenses can be paid. In Michigan, there are two types of probate: formal and informal. Most estates go the informal route. The personal representative, who is typically nominated in the will, submits the will to the court along with a request to open an estate in informal proceedings. The court clerk will open the probate estate and informally appoint the personal representative, who, after receiving letters of authority, may act to distribute the estate according to the will's instructions. Formal proceedings involve court proceedings with a judge who determines whether the will is valid, opens the probate estate, and formally appoints the personal representative. Formal proceedings are generally not necessary and are generally more expensive than formal proceedings. Formal proceedings are used to prove a will valid, or to show that the decedent did not have a will, or to set aside informal probate.  Not all decedents require probate, if they do not have property to transfer to others or if the property has already been transferred using a deed, trust, beneficiary designation, or other estate planning tool.


Why do I need an estate plan?


Estate planning and probate are not topics that come up in many conversations. Many people don't think about what would happen in the event of their death or incapacity because it is unpleasant to think about. However, thoughtful planning can save time, money, and stress for yourself and your loved ones. Regarding the passing of real and personal property, if you'd like something different than what the law provides, you must state your wishes in a legally enforceable document.  Regarding your medical desires, if you are unable to express your wishes, your wishes cannot be known unless you have provided guidance to your loved ones, preferably in writing.  After the death of a loved one, experienced guidance through the probate process can reduce the stress of wrapping up a person’s business and financial affairs.



What is an estate plan?


Estate plans are not just a person's "Last Will and Testament." Estate plans can involve plans for business and financial affairs, kind words of comfort for your family, your medical desires in the event of your incapacity, and plans for your home. Estate planning tools can involve not only wills, but medical and financial powers of attorney, deeds, trusts, revising beneficiary designations, or the creation of a limited liability corporation, among other tools.


Aren't estate plans just for the elderly?


Though estate plans are commonly believed to merely state a person's final wishes, estate plans are also beneficial to young families, including the nominations of guardians for young children and medical powers of attorney in the event of an incapacitating accident or disability. Estate plans are also beneficial for single persons and non-traditional couples and families, to give courts guidance in the event of incapacity, death, or disability.



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Sterling Law areas of practice include specialization in advocacy and divorce tailored for men. Sterling Law has a strong and successful history of representing both women and men in all areas of family law, including divorce.

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