0 comments on “The Benefit of Flowcharts”

The Benefit of Flowcharts

Going through all of your estate planning documents page-by-page can be overwhelming (and exhausting). Believe me, there’s a reason why estate planning attorneys include all of these provisions and pages. But to make it easier for you in the decision-making phase and in the document review phase, many of us use flowcharts or a similar visual to help you understand the overall picture of your estate plan.

Below is a sample for a married couple with a Joint Trust:

This is especially helpful in my practice which is 100% virtual. I usually have a flowchart in front of both me and my clients via a screen-share during video conferences – they can see the edits I make to the flowcharts and ask questions as we go through it.

They can also review it on their own and mark up their own questions or changes after they’ve had time to sit on some open issues before sending it back to me.

0 comments on “What Documents are part of a Comprehensive Estate Plan?”

What Documents are part of a Comprehensive Estate Plan?

Everyone has their own unique estate plan spelled out in the details, but generally, I draft the following documents for my Michigan clients as part of a comprehensive estate plan:

  1. Last Will and Testament
  2. Revocable Living Trust
  3. Certificate of Trust
  4. Durable Power of Attorney
  5. Living Will & Patient Advocate Designation
  6. HIPAA Authorization Form
  7. Michigan Funeral Representative Designation
  8. Flowchart
  9. Trust Funding Instructions (if your plan includes a Trust)

If you are married, then you and your spouse will each have one of each document. If your plan includes a Trust it may include one Joint Revocable Living Trust unless there are other factors that would require two separate Revocable Living Trusts. Read on here for more about Joint Trusts versus Separate Trusts.

There may be other documents that are necessary, such as a Deed for your real estate, but these are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Contact me here or at hayley@hayleyrohnlaw.com if you have any questions.

0 comments on “Back-to-School: A good time for Estate Planning”

Back-to-School: A good time for Estate Planning

Summer is winding down and tomorrow my kids return to school! It reminded me that now is really a wonderful time for all busy parents to tackle their estate planning goals before the end of the year. Whether your children are little or headed off to college, you’re busy settling into a new routine. Estate planning is probably the last thing on your mind. But it really should be top of mind – the beginning of a new school year can actually be a perfect time.

During this time, most parents are filling out emergency contact forms which are critical for the safety of your child. You must list who the school should call in case of an emergency when parents can’t be reached, and who might be authorized to make medical decisions for your child if their parents are unavailable. The names you put on these forms a great way to start thinking about who you love and trust enough to serve as their guardians should anything happen to you. Make sure your estate plan documents are in order to ensure their safety.

If your children are off to college, your child is essentially considered an adult. This means that hospitals, doctors, and nurses are no longer required to ask your permission before performing medical procedures. In fact, once your child turns 18, health care providers are no longer allowed to share information with the parents at all. Read on here and here for more on what your college-aged children need.

So, yes, updated vaccinations, school supplies, a new backpack, and new shoes and clothes may be what your children need today but your entire family needs a solid estate plan too for the future.

Contact me here or email me at hayley@hayleyrohnlaw.com for help guiding you in this process!

0 comments on “Powers of Attorney FAQs”

Powers of Attorney FAQs

What is a Power of Attorney?

By using a power of attorney, you ( the “principal”) appoint an agent to act for yourself to handle your affairs.

Specifically, a health care power of attorney allows an agent to act on your behalf for health care decisions and a durable power of attorney enables an agent to make decisions on your behalf regarding your finances.

What about my financial affairs?

Your agent would take over on handling your finances whenever you would like (i.e., effectively immediately or only upon your incapacity).

It can be immediately, meaning that the agent can make any decision for you that you could make right now. This is often common for spouses and for children of elderly parents who struggle with mobility or have physical limitations.

On the other hand, the power of attorney can be drafted so that the agent can step on only when you are unable to. This could be for medical reasons or mental incapacity, travel, military duty.

What about my health affairs?

I draft a “Living Will & Patient Advocate Designation” document which serves two purposes:

The Living Will sets out your wishes regarding medical treatment and care should you become incapacitated and cannot make these decisions.

The Patient Advocate Designation (a.k.a health care power of attorney) designates an agent that will make your medical decisions.

Who should have powers of attorney in place?

Everyone should have these in place once they turn 18. Regardless of health or danger in employment, anyone can end up in a situation where he or she needs someone else to make those decisions. Also, make sure to keep it updated as your relationships with these people can easily change over the years.

Contact me to set up an appointment to meet with you to discuss your estate planning objectives.

0 comments on “Is it time to update your Estate Plan?”

Is it time to update your Estate Plan?

For many of us, designing an estate plan seems like something you’d rather do only once and be done with forever. However, it’s critical to review your estate plan every few years or after major life changes. When starting a new plan, I always tell my clients to think of it as a five-year plan. And there are a few clear signs that it’s time to re-evaluate your estate plan:

1. Your Family Has Grown

The birth or adoption of a child changes everything, literally. Including your estate plan. It’s so important to include them in your Will by naming a guardian for your minor children. Or if you have grandchildren, perhaps you’d like to include them in your estate plan in some way.

2. The death or illness of a family member or fiduciary.

If someone you love has passed away and this person is named in your estate plan documents, you should evaluate the impact of his/her death on your plan and other beneficiaries. Similarly, if this is a person you had appointed as a fiduciary, such as a Principal under your Living Will & Patient Advocate Designation, you would need to ensure you have a back-up Principal to serve.

3. Marriage or Divorce.

When your legal relationship status changes one way or the other, your estate plan documents will need to be updated to reflect this.

4. Your Assets Have Changed in Value

Whenever the state of your assets shifts significantly, it’s important to revisit your estate plan. If you won the lottery, inherited assets, sold property, or acquired new wealth in some other way, you will need to ensure that your estate plan accounts for your new assets.

So how do I review my Estate Plan?

I will take the time to get to know you and your family during a free initial consultation and design a personalized estate plan. Given the virtual nature of my practice, I will ask for PDF copies of your current estate plan documents before we meet.

Contact me with any questions!

0 comments on “Thanksgiving is a Good Time to Start the Estate Planning Conversation”

Thanksgiving is a Good Time to Start the Estate Planning Conversation

Thanksgiving is often the only opportunity in the whole year when all of your family members get together. While it’s a time to relax and spend quality time together (for some of us, at least, since I realize Thanksgiving is not always relaxing or fun for many of us too), it’s also one of the only chances that family members can engage in uninterrupted, in-person conversations with the whole family. So I encourage you to place estate planning on the top of your list of things to discuss, not necessarily at the Thanksgiving table itself but at some point during the time you’re visiting with your family this week. Remember, estate planning is a long process that starts with a conversation. Feel free to keep the wine and beer flowing during this conversation!

If you’re not sure how to start the conversation, please free to contact me below for ideas. I actually would recommend filling out the Client Information worksheet as it helps you organize your thoughts and identify questions and issues that you are undecided on.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!





0 comments on “Women Really Need an Estate Plan”

Women Really Need an Estate Plan

With Mother’s Day coming, I thought I’d write about how estate planning is just so important for mothers and women generally!  While everyone needs an estate plan, as well as a financial plan, women in particular face unique concerns in their estate planning. This is primarily because women have a longer life expectancy and thus are likely to outlive their husbands at which point they have an even greater responsibility to manage her own financial affairs. But regardless of a woman’s marital status or net worth, they need to make more decisions and prepare NOW to better protect themselves and their loved in ones in the case of incapacity or death.

Here are a few considerations that are unique to women in planning their estates and managing their assets during their lifetime:

  1. Longer Life Expectancy. As I mentioned above, women generally live longer than men. This really means that married women need their assets to last longer than men do, which in turn means that wives who will inherit their husbands’ estates, need to have a good handle on their joint finances and estate plan now. A longer life expectancy also usually means the wife might have the final word about the final disposition about her assets, including the assets she inherits from her husband. And a side note: because of her likelihood to survive, she would be the one who would potentially face pressure or influence from family members and friends after her husband’s death
  2. Unequal Income Streams. While we shouldn’t assume that men are always the breadwinners, it’s still the case for many families. For that reason it is so important to plan for when the husband dies or becomes incapacitated – couples need to ensure that both spouses have adequate life insurance policies. Even if a woman is a stay-at-home mom and not bringing in income or employed, there should be adequate life insurance on her life to help the surviving husband with childcare and other expenses that arise because of the loss of his wife. Remember, creating an estate plan is not about the distribution of your assets after death, but it is also about reviewing and ensuring there is enough assets to support both spouses throughout life.
  3. Women are usually the custodial parent. Women who are parents of young children especially need to plan for the continued care of those children in the event something happens to them. This is important if the woman is divorced or the sole custodial parent.
  4. Business Ownership. More and more woman are becoming business owners these days. They need to plan to protect their business assets and for the succession of their business.
  5. Women in high-risk professions. More and more women are in higher risk professions these days such as medicine and law – they can really benefit from proper asset protection planning as part of their estate plan.

Ultimately, while many women enter a marriage with their own wealth, many others are handling their finances for the very first time due to death or divorce. Either way, women in particular are sensitive to change in the circumstances of a marriage, whether due to death, divorce, or remarriage. It’s not recommended to wait until a life-changing event occurs to start the estate planning process. Estate planning is a life-long process that requires a periodic review of assets and your objectives.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you wonderful moms out there!

Contact me with any questions!




0 comments on “Incapacity Planning: how to make sure your estate is in good hands if you become incapacitated”

Incapacity Planning: how to make sure your estate is in good hands if you become incapacitated

There’s nothing more certain than getting older and eventually dying. But what about in between if  you become incapacitated? Proper planning can help ensure that your estate is in good hands as you age when