To accomplish these probate avoidance techniques in Michigan, you need to understand specific procedures and applicable laws:

  1. Set Up Payable-on-Death Accounts:

    • The Paperwork: Complete forms provided by your bank or financial institution.
    • Adding POD Designation to Joint Account: Follow bank procedures; typically involves filling out a form.
    • Choosing Beneficiaries: You can name any individual as a beneficiary.
    • If a Beneficiary Dies Before You: You'll need to name a new beneficiary.
    • If You Change Your Mind: You can change the beneficiary by updating the POD form.
    • Claiming the Money: Beneficiaries must provide a death certificate and proper identification.
    • Laws: Governed by Michigan Compiled Laws Section 487.703 for POD accounts.
  2. Name a Beneficiary for Your Retirement Accounts:

    • Choosing a Beneficiary: Done through forms provided by your retirement account administrator.
    • Required Minimum Distributions: Governed by federal IRS rules, particularly after the SECURE Act.
    • Laws: Primarily federal laws, including IRS regulations.
  3. Name a Beneficiary for Your Stocks and Bonds:

    • Transfer-on-Death Registration: Use a TOD registration form from your brokerage.
    • Registration of Government Bonds and Notes: Follow U.S. Treasury guidelines.
    • Laws: Federal laws, along with Michigan's laws on TOD securities (Michigan Compiled Laws Section 565.451).
  4. Name a Beneficiary for Your Vehicles:

    • Transfer-on-Death Registration: Michigan allows TOD registration for vehicles.
    • Joint Ownership With Right of Survivorship: Title the vehicle in joint names with this designation.
    • Special Transfer Procedures for Vehicles: Follow Michigan's procedures for vehicle title transfer.
    • Laws: Governed by Michigan vehicle title laws.
  5. Name a Beneficiary for Your Real Estate:

    • Can You Use a TOD Deed?: Michigan permits the use of TOD deeds (Lady Bird Deeds).
    • How It Works: The property passes to the beneficiary upon death, bypassing probate.
    • Possible Drawbacks: Consider potential tax implications and effect on Medicaid planning.
    • How to Prepare, Sign, and Record the Deed: Consult a real estate attorney for proper execution.
    • Three Ways to Cancel the Deed: Revocation, selling the property, or transfer to someone else.
    • How the New Owner Claims the Property: By presenting your death certificate and following legal procedures.
    • Laws: Michigan's laws on real estate transfers and deeds.
  6. Hold Property in Joint Ownership:

    • Kinds of Joint Ownership: Joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety (for married couples), and community property.
    • Laws: Governed by Michigan property law.
  7. Create a Living Trust:

    • How it Avoids Probate: Property in the trust bypasses probate.
    • Other Advantages: Privacy, control over asset distribution.
    • Why You Still Need a Will: To cover any assets not in the trust.
    • Creating a Valid Living Trust: Requires drafting a trust document and funding the trust.
    • Taxes and Record Keeping: Keep accurate records; consult a tax advisor for potential implications.
    • Amending or Revoking a Living Trust Document: Generally allowed; process depends on trust type.
    • Laws: Governed by Michigan Trust Code.
  8. Special Procedures for Small Estates:

    • Small Estates Affidavit: For estates under a certain value threshold.
    • Claiming Wages and Other Assets With Affidavits: Simplified process for small estates.
    • Simplified Court Procedures: Available for smaller estates.
    • Laws: Michigan Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC).

Note: This is a general guide. For personalized advice, consult with a Michigan attorney specializing in estate planning.


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