Estate Planning

HL_EstateEstate planning is not something to put off until your golden years. People of all ages can benefit from having an appropriate plan in place for their assets, whether that plan consists of a simple will or more complex tools for reducing tax burdens or protecting a family business.

At Helm Law PC, we provide skilled representation to individuals, couples and families throughout Michigan, assisting them with all aspects of estate planning. Our lawyers and staff provide attentive service and focus on tailoring a plan to the unique circumstances and goals of our clients.

Estate Planning Attorneys Serving Michigan

Whether you are a single person looking to create a will, a young couple with children or you are approaching retirement, we can help you create an estate plan that protects your interests. Our firm can also handle the most complex estate planning matters involving business succession planning and asset protection for doctors, business owners and other professionals.

Pensions and Retirement Benefits

One of the factors that need to be taken into consideration for your estate plan is how your pension benefits will be handled upon your death.

A pension is a regular payment made to you for past services rendered, often after retirement or disability, when you are no longer earning a regular income from employment. Pensions are often provided to company employees, government employees and members of labor unions. They are usually paid out on a deferred basis, which can provide tax advantages to both employers and retirees. Some pension plans also pay benefits to your survivors.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) requires that retirement plans have a survivor benefit, which allows the spouse of a participant to receive vested benefits if the participant dies before retirement.

If you die after retirement and you are married, your spouse is also entitled to a portion of your pension. However, this usually reduces the monthly retirement payments you would have received if the benefits were to be paid just during your lifetime. Your spouse can agree to waive this survivor benefit protection. You may also be able to name another person as your beneficiary such as a child.

Other retirement benefits that require careful estate planning are:

  • 401(k) accounts
  • 403(b) accounts
  • Profit sharing, or incentive plans in which a share of a company’s profits are typically accumulated in a tax-deferred account until an employee retires or leaves the company
  • IRA (individual retirement account)
  • ESOP (employee stock ownership plan)
  • PERS (public employee pension plan)

Property Transfers and Estate Administration

Transferring real property requires skilled help to ensure the asset is protected and to ensure the property is correctly passed according to your wishes. Our attorneys can help you accomplish this by drafting quitclaim deeds (for those who wish to retain no financial or legal interest in the property) or a warranty deed (to warranty the property against liens and other ownership claims).

We also realize the difficulty many people have administering the estate of a deceased loved one. The process itself can be quite complex, which is why we offer services to simplify the process and settle the estate for as little cost as possible. This includes notifying heirs and beneficiaries, locating and valuing property in the estate, paying final debts, paying final taxes and anything else that is required to finalize a person’s affairs.

Elder Law Services

Elder planning is designed to protect the rights and interests of the elderly population. Our attorneys provide comprehensive elder law services to ensure men and women are set up for success during their twilight years. This includes:

  •  Establishing advance health care directives and health care proxies (medical powers of attorney)
  •  Drafting durable powers of attorney documents for financial purposes