In a seminar titled, “Get Your Ducks In A Row,” Fraser Trebilcock attorney Marlaine C. Teahan shared her legal experience with families on topics that included: differences between wills and trusts and how to choose between them, the best planning ideas for minor and special needs children, and more.
How is my property conveyed at
(Terms of trust control)
(Pass to joint owner)
(Only individually owned assets)
Federal Estate & Gift* Taxes
YEAR ESTATE & GIFT TAX
TOP ESTATE, GIFT &
GST TAX RATE
LIFETIME GIFT TAX
(begin portability) $5 million 35% $5 million
(begin indexing for
$5.12 million 35% $5.12 million
2013** $5.25 million 40% $5.25 million
2014 $5.34 million 40% $5.34 million
2015 $5.43 million 40% $5.43 million
2016 $5.45 million 40% $5.45 million
2017 $5.49 million 40% $5.49 million
2018 and beyond Increases each year
by a COLA
40% Increases each year by
*$14,000 annual gift tax exclusion amount. NOTE: This chart is current but Congress may change
Top 10 Estate Planning Needs
1. GET A TRUST. A fully funded revocable grantor
trust (commonly called a “Living Trust”) avoids
probate, protects children and those with special
needs, and can help reduce or eliminate federal
The terms of a trust may include who will be in
charge of your assets upon your disability or death
and may provide for gifts to charity, family, and
friends. For many people, a trust is the centerpiece
of their estate plan; for others, a Will is all you need.
Each person and each family is unique, requiring
2. GET A WILL. A Will allows you to direct the
persons and or charities that will receive your
assets upon your death. If you do not have a
Will, the State of Michigan will direct (by the
intestacy laws) how your assets will be
Even if you have a trust, you need to have a
"pourover" Will just in case your trust is not fully
funded at your death. A pourover Will transfers your
probate assets to your trust so that there is only one
document that controls the disposition of your
assets at your death.
3. GET A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR FINANCES. Having
a Durable Power of Attorney for finances gives your
designated Agent authority to handle your finances. This is
very helpful if you become disabled or incompetent. Without
a durable power of attorney, a Court-appointed Conservator
may be needed to handle your financial affairs.
4. GET A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH
CARE/DESIGNATE A PATIENT ADVOCATE. When you are
unable to communicate your wishes regarding your own
medical care, after 2 doctors certify this fact in writing, your
patient advocate can act for you to make decisions
regarding your medical and end of life care, hospice, dying
at home, and pain relief. Designating your patient advocate
may save your loved ones a trip to probate court to be
appointed your guardian.
5. PLAN FOR A POSSIBLE LAY-OFF OR LOSS OF A JOB.
Create an emergency fund that will get you through
2-3 months of your financial needs in the event your
family’s major wage earner loses his or her job.
6. OBTAIN DISABILITY INSURANCE. An accident or illness
that leaves you unable to work can cause great
financial difficulties, even if it is only a short-term
disability. Long-term disabilities can be even more
financially devastating. If your employer does not
provide short- and long-term disability, investing in
these products may provide needed income for your
family when you are unable to provide.
7. PLAN FOR YOUR MINOR AND DISABLED CHILDREN. If parents of minor
children die without a will or trust, the probate court will set up a
conservatorship to protect assets inherited by the children. At 18, the
children will receive their inheritance outright. Most people prefer to set
up a trust that will set aside money for their children’s health, education
and support, deferring ultimate distribution of funds until age 25, 30, 35,
or later. If a child has special needs, a Special Needs Trust should be
considered as part of the parents' estate plan; this can be part of a
revocable trust or a standalone Special Needs Trust. Part of planning for
your children often includes determining how much of your children’s
education you want to provide. Then, consult your financial advisor to
assist you in making a plan to save money for college or other
training/support for your child. Another major component of planning for
minor children is to designate a guardian, the person who will care for
them until they reach 18. This is a difficult issue for some families but a
very important one that needs advance planning.
If your children are over 18, don't forget that they should do planning of their
own. Durable Powers of Attorney can often avoid the need for your child to
have a guardian or conservator appointed. Consider that even college kids
should have their own Durable Powers of Attorney for Finances and Health
8. PLAN FOR YOUR RETIREMENT. Work closely with your financial
planner to adequately plan for your retirement. Check out a life
expectancy tool at www.livingto100.com to see how long you can
expect to live. If you have a long life expectancy, you may wish to
save more money now, or work a few years longer to obtain
higher Social Security benefits.
9. PLAN FOR MEDICAID. Before going into a nursing home, and before
applying for Medicaid, consult an attorney familiar with Medicaid’s
eligibility, divestment, and estate recovery rules. Getting proper
advice at this time may save your family thousands of dollars.
Melisa Mysliwiec, Esq. at Fraser Trebilcock can advise you on
10. PLAN YOUR FUNERAL. Pre-planning, and possibly pre-paying, your
funeral will take a burden off the shoulders of your loved ones.
Decisions you make now will ease their load of decision-making
during a difficult time. Consult your local funeral director for more
Ethical Will Idea
Christian Preamble for the Trust of ______ *** Sola Dei Gloria- To God Alone be the Glory
In the name of the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
First, we want our loved ones to realize that throughout our lives and in death, we have placed our full
confidence and trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who promised, "I am the resurrection and the life;
he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never
die." (John 11:25-26).
This confidence and trust is based on our knowledge that the wages of sin is death and on our belief that
Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, suffered and died for the forgiveness of all our sins, which we neither
deserve nor merit, but receive as a free gift of God, who is rich in mercy and grace.
Second, in death, as in life, our greatest hope is that our heirs remain committed to the faith created in their
hearts in their Holy Baptism where they obtained the promised inheritance of heaven.
Third, we recognize that all of our earthly possessions are a gift from God. Therefore, we have made
provisions in our trust to continue our Christian stewardship after we have gone to Heaven to be with the
Lord. In particular we are leaving a gift for the Our Savior Lutheran Church Endowment Fund. This gift is
made in thanksgiving for the indescribable blessings and nurturing we and our children have received from
the ministry of this faithful church and school over at least 35 years.
Fourth, our heirs will receive, through us, gifts from God. May you always remember that everything you
have is a trust from God. We pray that you be good and wise stewards of His blessings, managing wisely
and returning to Him a generous portion for the work in His Kingdom.
Finally, to God be all thanks and Glory!!
Marlaine C. Teahan, Esq.
Fraser Trebilcock Davis & Dunlap, P.C.
124 West Allegan Street, Suite 1000
Lansing, Michigan 48933
Please call me with