Trusted Estate Planning Lawyers in St. Joseph, MI

Proper and effective estate plans are about more than just drafting legal documents like wills and trusts. It’s about preserving your life’s work, passing on its purpose, and ensuring the well-being of your loved ones. As a premier and boutique estate planning law firm serving SW Michigan, we offer comprehensive and personalized estate planning solutions that cater to unique needs, blended families, and business owners.

At Legacy Counsel, we’re committed to safeguarding your assets and ensuring your wishes are honored. Our estate planning lawyers cover various services, from asset protection and wealth transfer to plans for those with minor children. Everyone’s situation is distinct, and our approach is always tailored to reflect your goals and aspirations. With a deep understanding of Michigan estate law and a dedication to meticulous planning, we will clearly explain your options and guide you through every stage, ensuring your legacy is well-preserved.

More About Legacy Counsel

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning refers to anticipating and arranging for the management and disbursement of your assets during your life and after your death. Planning includes preparing for future care, making your final wishes known, and the bequest of assets to heirs. It also encompasses the settlement of estate taxes and other critical legal matters.

Your Michigan Estate Plan Should Cover:

  • Asset Distribution: Ensure your possessions, property, and finances are distributed per your wishes using tools like wills and trusts.
  • Dependent Care: Makes arrangements for any dependents, especially minors, through guardianships and trusts.
  • Healthcare Planning: Prepare for illness, injury, or incapacitation by designating someone to manage your healthcare and financial decisions through advance directives and powers of attorney.
  • Tax Preparation: Minimize estate taxes and income taxes while reducing legal expenses for your beneficiaries.
  • Pass On What Matters: Decide how you want to be remembered and pass on your values and wealth, potentially through charitable giving, inheritances, or a family foundation.

Why is an Estate Plan Important?

A comprehensive estate plan is essential for everyone, regardless of income or the size of your estate. It ensures that property is distributed according to your wishes, minimizes taxes, and can help avoid the costly and time-consuming probate process. It also provides peace of mind, knowing that your loved ones are cared for, and your financial affairs are in order.

We believe that everyone deserves a well-considered estate plan that reflects their wishes and values. That’s why we offer a free consultation to all new clients. During your consultation with Legacy Counsel, we’ll discuss your goals, and a knowledgeable Berrien County estate planning lawyer will answer any questions.

What Our Estate Planning Lawyers Do

During your Life and Legacy Planning Session, our St. Joseph estate planning attorneys put all the pieces in place and equip you with all the tools needed to protect your loved ones and make your legacy legally enforceable.

Drafting & Updating Your Will

Creating a will is the cornerstone of many estate plans. It specifies how your assets should be distributed and can appoint guardians for minor children. If you already have a will, reviewing and updating it regularly to reflect changes in your life circumstances is crucial.

Learn More about Wills

Trust Administration

Trusts are versatile tools in estate planning. We assist in setting up various types of trusts tailored to your needs and manage them effectively, ensuring they serve their intended purpose, from asset protection to tax efficiency.

More on Trust Administration

Plans for Minor Children

An estate plan is vital for those with minor children, ensuring their care in unforeseen circumstances. We can create a plan that includes guardianship designations, financial provisions, and tools to communicate your values and healthcare wishes.

Estate Planning with Minors

Asset Protection

Our strategies protect your wealth from future liabilities such as creditors, lawsuits, or divorces. We focus on keeping your assets secure within the family and ensuring they are passed down as you see fit.

More about Asset Protection.

Power of Attorney/Advance Directives

Also referred to as advance directives in Michigan, a medical power of attorney or durable general financial power of attorney are legal documents granting someone the authority to handle your affairs if you cannot do so.

Learn More about Advance Directives.

Business Succession

We offer succession planning for business owners to ensure a smooth business transition upon retirement, disability, or death.

More on Business Succession Plans

Elder Law Services

Long-term planning is critical to any Michigan estate plan. From comprehensive Medicaid planning to elder abuse advocacy and protection, we provide a robust suite of services designed to protect seniors and ensure their legal and healthcare needs are met with dignity and respect.

Learn More about Elder Law

Probate Services

A properly executed estate plan should help you avoid most headaches with probate court. But our team also helps streamline the process of asset distribution. We assist personal representatives and beneficiaries in navigating probate, ensuring efficient estate administration. 

Learn More about Probate

Wealth Transfer/Gifts

We assist in strategizing the transfer of your assets, whether through gifts during your lifetime or inheritances, in a tax-efficient manner.

Charitable Planning

Our team can help you achieve your philanthropic goals by integrating charitable giving strategies into your estate plan.

Estate and Income Taxes

We guide you in minimizing or avoiding estate and income taxes, ensuring more of your estate goes to your beneficiaries.

Special Needs Planning

For families with a special needs member, we create trusts and other legal arrangements to ensure their long-term care and financial security. 

Benefit from a Fully Custom Estate Plan

At Legacy Counsel, we know your situation is unique. That’s why we meet every potential client to discuss your goals personally. Once we understand what you want to achieve, our experienced and efficient estate planning lawyers can answer any questions and develop a plan tailored to your needs.

Our Estate Planning Process

  • The Initial Consultation: We begin with a comprehensive discussion (called a Life and Legacy Planning Session) to understand your situation, estate planning goals, and concerns.
  • Document Collection & Prep: Once your planning session is scheduled, it’s wise to start gathering any current wills, trust documents, deeds, life insurance policies, and a list of assets and liabilities.
  • We Design Your Plan: Based on our discussion, our team will craft a personalized estate plan that aligns with your objectives. Once approved, our attorney will draft all necessary legal documents, including wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives.
  • Review & Execution: We will review these estate planning documents with you to ensure they accurately reflect your wishes and then assist with their formal execution.
  • Ongoing Review & Updates: Life changes, and so should your estate plan. We offer regular reviews to ensure your plan remains current. You can also discuss if your plan may benefit from our Legacy membership program, designed for those who want an on-call attorney.

Explore Our Packages

Why Work with Legacy Counsel?

Our approach extends beyond estate services. We believe in nurturing relationships and keeping you out of court and conflict. Estate planning with us is just the beginning of an enduring partnership. From the moment you sign your documents, we commit to being with you and your loved ones every step of the way.

Legacy Clients Benefit From

  • A Fully Custom Estate Plan
  • Clear & Upfront Pricing
  • 3 Year Estate Plan Reviews at No Additional Cost
  • Open & Honest Communication
  • E-Signature Capability, Virtual Consults & Expedited Services.

Contact Legal Counsel today to book a consultation. We’ll answer all your questions and address your concerns.

Schedule a Consultation

“The experience was great!

The step-by-step process greatly assisted us in getting our estate in order. What a relief to know that this will minimize the stress our children will not have to go through after we pass.”

Brenda R.

Michigan Estate Planning Information Center

Whether you’re drafting your first will, setting up a trust after working your entire life or looking for advanced estate planning techniques to pass down your business or real estate holdings, Legacy Counsel is dedicated to equipping you with the knowledge and tools necessary to make informed decisions for your and your family’s future.

Michigan Estate Planning Forms & Resources

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10 Life Events That Signal It’s Time to Review Your Estate Plan

Read Our Blog

Learn the 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing an Estate Planning Attorney


Estate Plan FAQs

Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?

A Michigan estate plan ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, reduces the burden of taxes and legal fees on your beneficiaries, and provides clear instructions for your care if you become incapacitated. It’s essential for protecting and providing for your loved ones.

What Should Be Included in an Estate Plan?

A comprehensive estate plan typically includes a will, a power of attorney, healthcare directives, trusts (if applicable), and beneficiary designations. It may also consist of guardianship designations for minor children and instructions for your other assets.

What Happens If I Die Without an Estate Plan?

If you die without an estate plan in Michigan, your assets will be distributed according to the state intestacy laws, which may not align with your wishes. This can also lead to longer and more costly probate proceedings.

Is Estate Planning Only for the Wealthy?

Absolutely Not. Estate planning is important for everyone, regardless of wealth. It’s about ensuring your assets, no matter their size, are distributed as you wish and providing for your loved ones after your passing.

How Long Does Estate Planning Take?

Our estate planning process typically involves three meetings with you over the course of about eight weeks. However, the exact time it takes will depend on your unique situation and how complex your estate plan will be. It’s also important to remember that estate planning is an ongoing process. As your life, family structure, and bank accounts change, it will be important to update and revisit your estate plan periodically. Think of estate planning as a long-term investment in your family’s future.

What Does an Estate Plan Lawyer Do?

An estate planning lawyer plays a pivotal role in ensuring your assets’ efficient management and distribution. At Legacy Counsel, our attorneys craft personalized plans, addressing traditional needs and innovative solutions like the Kids Protection Plan and College Care Plan. We also ensure your plan evolves with you, offering regular reviews and comprehensive estate management and probate services.

How Much Does an Estate Planning Lawyer Cost?

The cost of an estate planning lawyer varies based on the complexity of the estate and the specific services required. While some firms charge hourly rates, Legacy Counsel charges a flat fee for its estate planning services. These are agreed to in advance, so there are never any billing surprises.

How Do You Choose an Estate Planning Lawyer?

When choosing an estate planning lawyer, consider their experience, whether their firm has a concentration in estate law, client reviews, and your comfort level with them. It’s essential to work with someone who understands your needs and whom you can trust.

Note: We bill hourly for probate and trust administration. We bill flat fee for Medicaid planning.

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