Estate planning ensures you and your family peace of mind

GENESEE COUNTY — There are many things to be learned from the on-going global pandemic, but one thing the current situation has taught us all is that our future is unpredictable.

It’s that lesson that Bob Mannor, an attorney at Mannor Law Group in Grand Blanc, hopes will remind people that it may be unpredictable, but the future is coming and you need to plan for it with an estate plan.

“Many people put off estate planning until they are sick or dying. It is important to have the crucial legal documents in place even if you are young and healthy,” he said. “The value of planning ahead has never been more clear.”

Even people as young as 18 need to have legal documents in place such as a health proxy and power of attorney, said Mannor.

“Parents will not have access to information or the ability to help their child at college without these important documents,” he said.

To begin planning, Mannor said it’s important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney. He added that getting bad advice could cause you and your family problems like extra taxes and court costs. “The laws and regulations are constantly changing,” he said.

With an experienced attorney in place, it’s important to continue to update your estate plan as you age.

“As we get a little older and have a family we need documents to protect our spouse and kids and stay out of court if we get sick or die,” said Mannor. “Most people are not legally prepared for the last stage of life. That is the stage of life before we die where many of us will be dependent on others because of physical restrictions or memory issues. That stage of life requires different documents to help maintain as much independence and quality of life as possible. Without this planning, a court may end up making these decisions for you.”

While many people have heard terms like “Will” and “Trust” it’s important to know that estate planning includes so much more.

“The Will is often the least important legal document,” said Mannor. “Wills only take affect after someone dies and the Probate Court issues Letters of Authority. More important is what happens before you die. If you don’t want a court to decide who will make decisions for you, then you need proper legal documents where you decide who can assist you if you are sick, have dementia or are otherwise incapacitated. Many people use different types of trusts in a comprehensive plan to protect and maintain your assets during your lifetime and after death.”

Some may think estate planning is only for the rich, but the opposite is true says Mannor.

“Surprisingly, estate planning is more important for normal folks than for rich people,” he said. “If you’re rich you can afford some mistakes.

If you’re not rich you need to make sure you have protections in place for when you’re sick or when you die. A good estate plan can help make sure you don’t lose everything to nursing home costs. A great estate plan makes it more likely that you won’t go to a nursing home in the first place.”

Estate planning can also help families avoid the cost and stress of court in the event of an illness or death.

“Some of the longest and most difficult Probate Court matters I have handled were for someone who died without much money but failed to do proper estate planning,” said Mannor.

—Emily Caswell