Estate Planning Attorney Ann Arbor, MI

A Gift to Yourself and Your Loved Ones

Estate planning is important to protect you, your loved ones, your assets, and your legacy. Consulting with an experienced attorney whose primary area of practice is estate planning can help to ensure that the documents you need are prepared properly and will achieve your goals. We will help you develop an excellent estate plan so you can protect your assets, avoid probate, simplify matters for your loved ones, minimize the potential for court involvement, discuss potential tax consequences, and customize your plan to your specific needs. What sets us apart from many other law firms that offer drafting services is that we do much more than simply “draft a will.” Our estate planning attorneys are dedicated to practicing solely in the area estate planning, probate, and trust law, which gives us a significant and unique advantage to understanding the nuances of this area of law. Our attorneys appear in the local probate courts and before the probate judges, so we see first hand what can and has gone wrong in other cases because of improperly drafted documents, unfunded trusts, forgotten assets, lack of foresight of court involvement, and so much more. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

At Nichols, Sacks, Slank, Sendelbach, Buiteweg & Solomon, P.C., we work to make the process of planning easy, convenient, and cost-effective. Unlike other firms, we offer flat-fee pricing for most estate planning documents, so you will know the cost involved after our first meeting and before you choose to officially retain us. Importantly, our relationship does not end when the documents are signed; we follow-up with you to make sure that the estate plan is properly implemented, an important step that is all-too-often missed when trying to do things on your own or with an attorney who does not primarily do estate planning. Nearly every estate plan will require “homework” on your part to make sure each asset of yours is properly handled after the documents are signed. To achieve that goal, we assist you in the post-signing process by providing a succinct “to-do” list and offering an open line of communication for years down the road. We are here to build a relationship with you, and not just a document.

While many “do-it-yourself” estate planning tools are available online, it can be very risky to use these documents; you or your family may discover the documents are ineffective for your needs, and sadly that discovery may take place only when it is too late to change them. Your estate plan should be designed to effectively manage each and every major asset you have accumulated during your lifetime, which is too important of a legacy to leave to chance. Working with an attorney who is knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the Michigan Estate and Protected Individuals Code as well as the Michigan Trust Code will give you a leg-up on ensuring your documents not only comply with Michigan law but are also best designed for the nuances involved in your plan. Our attorneys will give you the peace of mind that your estate planning documents will do exactly what you intend (and many times, so much more).

Our firm also offers specialized estate planning for parents who are conceiving a child through surrogacy and parents who are going through the process of step-parent or same-gender adoption.

The real benefit of having a plan designed just for you is peace of mind that your family will be secure and your wishes honored.

Our law firm helps individuals and families around the State of Michigan, as well as specifically assisting clients in Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, Monroe, Jackson, and other surrounding communities with our estate planning services. Our experienced lawyers can help with wills, trusts, probate, durable powers of attorney for finances and health care, deeds, special needs trusts, elder law, and elder mediation. We invite you to contact Nichols, Sacks, Slank, Sendelbach, Buiteweg & Solomon to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.

Frequently Asked Questions - Estate Planning

Why do I need an estate plan?

An estate plan should be part of your or your family’s overall financial plan, like saving for your retirement or a child’s college tuition, or investing your financial assets. A good estate plan will not only consider what happens to your assets when you die, but it will also consider what happens to you, your finances, and your property while you are alive but incapacitated due to accident, injury, or illness. If you have minor children, planning for their future will help a court to decide where your children will live and who will make important decisions about their money, education, and way of life. Our attorneys can assist you in making these important decisions in a simple, easy-to-understand way that protects you and future generations of your family.

When is a good time to establish my estate plan?

It’s never too late to plan for your future, but the earlier you plan, the less risk you have for being unprepared when life takes an unexpected turn. Our experienced estate planning attorneys can help you understand what documents you may need, how to best protect yourself and your children, and whether you should update any estate planning documents you already have.

Why should I consult an attorney to help with my estate plan?

With pre-made estate planning documents readily available on the internet, it’s only natural to wonder why you should consult with an attorney for your estate plan. However, estate planning is serious business, which can also have serious legal consequences. It’s important to fully understand the purpose of each document, the nuances that accompany different types of language in each document, and the consequences for signing any legal document. Every word, sentence, clause, and yes, even punctuation mark, can have significant legal consequences. One missing word or signature can invalidate a document or change your intent.

Consulting with an attorney can still be affordable, and it can save your family from the very real, sad, and often-times even more costly realization that the estate planning document you downloaded will not work as you planned. Our attorneys have seen far too many documents, many downloaded from the internet or drafted by inexperienced attorneys, which have not only been improperly executed or worded, but which have cost our clients more in legal fees to defend or correct than it would have cost to have them done properly in the first instance. Our experienced attorneys know the pitfalls to avoid, the added language needed to protect you and your loved ones, and the legal requirements necessary to ensure that your customized plan is properly executed.

Consider the following reasons for consulting one of our estate planning attorneys:
  • Minors - Avoiding the need for a conservator if a parent dies? Whether a trust for a minor’s benefit should be named as the beneficiary of my retirement accounts? What about my other assets? Why are trusts important when estate planning for young children? What happens to my minor children if both parents die?
  • Younger adults – Heading off to college? Getting married? Buying a house? Setting up your first retirement account?
  • Middle-aged adults – Moving to or building a new home? Involved in a long-term relationship or marriage? Birth or adoption of a child? Divorce or separation? Second marriage? Estate planning for surrogacy? Planning for business succession? Have a disabled child?
  • Retirement-aged adults -- Long-term care planning for you, your spouse, or a significant other? Involved in the probate process? Named as a personal representative, power of attorney, or trustee in a legal document? Wanting to leave a legacy for your children or grandchildren? Minimizing tax consequences or administration fees for your estate plan?
  • Elderly adults – In need of powers of attorney for health care or finances? Medicaid or long-term care planning? Difficulty living independently? Experiencing cognitive decline? Fearful of financial exploitation? Who will make my funeral arrangements?

What is Probate?

Probate is the process a court uses to supervise a deceased person’s estate. At times, it can be costly and time-consuming, so many people consult with an estate planning attorney to try to avoid the probate process. A common misconception is that if you have a will, you can avoid the probate process. However, while there are several ways to avoid probate, merely having a will is not one of them. Our attorneys can discuss with you the various and often free or inexpensive ways that you can avoid probate for many of your assets.

Should I try to avoid Probate in my estate plan?

The short answer is: maybe. For many estates, you may be able to save your loved ones from the expense, time, and headaches that probate can cause by establishing a solid estate plan designed to avoid probate. But there are always exceptions to the rule. For a few people, their probate assets may be small enough that a unique procedure for small estates can be used that is quicker and easier than typical probate. Additionally, some assets may be easily handled through the probate process, while others may not. Thus, it is important to consult with someone who is knowledgeable about the subject of probate law to help guide you through the considerations.

Wills & Trusts

An estate plan is a toolkit designed to meet the essential goal of providing security and peace of mind for your family. Depending on your needs, your estate plan may contain different documents, but wills and trusts are some of the basic building bl…

Probate & Trust Administration

When a Michigan resident passes away, a family member usually becomes responsible for paying their last debts and distributing the estate assets that remain. The probate (estate administration) process can be confusing. If you are grieving and unfami…

Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney (POA) are an essential part of your estate plan. In essence, a power of attorney is a document through which you give someone you trust the authority to act on your behalf. That person is called your agent, and the extent of their…

Elder Mediation

Elder mediation helps preserve family harmony, one of the most precious gifts a family can give to an elderly member. Older adults, their families and caregivers may need help making difficult decisions related to long-term care, guardianship, medica…

Lady Bird Deeds

A “Lady Bird Deed,” also known as an Enhanced Life Estate Deed, can be very useful if you have a home or other real property you want to include in your estate plan. This deed can keep you or your senior relative in their home without worrying th…