Estate Planning Attorneys | Grand Rapids & West Michigan

Grand Rapids Estate Planning Attorneys

Believe it or not, estate planning is advantageous for EVERYONE. Our experienced estate planning attorneys are here to guide you through the process. No matter if you are single, live in an apartment, and only have limited belongings, having a Will in place will benefit you.

Why? Leaving loved ones behind is disheartening enough without adding the responsibility of settling affairs. If you do not have a Will, the law requires, that in addition to opening a probate court proceeding, the State will determine what happens with your private affairs and possessions.

A Will and Trust is essential to a family. Regardless of age, and especially if you have young children, a Trust can be used to provide for both guardianship of the child(ren) and instructions regarding all aspects of your estate, life insurance and other funds in caring for your children after your demise.

If you are concerned about the dynamics of your estate, and the future security of your loved ones, you owe it to yourself and them to consider an estate plan. Evaluate the benefits of estate planning, and recognize, that regardless of the size of your estate, there are many alternatives for accomplishing your planning goals.

Clear and understandable estate documents

When a client comes to us with a store or online "one-size-fits-all" packaged Will or a Trust, the wording of the document is often unnecessarily confusing. This can even be true for documents prepared by attorneys. This presents a danger since the person who signed the document may not truly understand what it says. Especially in the case of pre-packaged forms, the documentsmay also be incomplete or fail to address necessary issues. As your attorneys, we take care to see that every Will, Trust and contract we generate is carefully composed in precise, understandable language. If terminology appears unclear, it is our mandate that we explain in "non-legalese" the meaning and purpose for the written words. It is important that each client has a complete understanding of any document requiring a signature. All documentation is written with the focus of protecting our clients from future challenges.

Particularly in the areas of estate planning law and probate avoidance, personal and sensitive matters will be discussed with your attorney. As such, it is essential to trust an attorney with the experience to protect your interests, and who will understand each unique and individualized concern.

By no means an exhaustive list, some of the standard estate documents that we regularly prepare are:

  • Wills (Simple and Pour-Over)
  • General Revocable Trusts
  • Marital Exemption Trusts
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Vacation Property ("Cottage") Trusts
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts
  • Grantor Retained Income Trusts

We also are happy to provide Powers of Attorney, Patient Advocate Designations, Certificates of Trust Existence and Authority, Quit Claim Deeds, and Assignments of Tangible Assets. 

It is our goal to design and implement an estate plan that is as robust as your present and future needs may be.

Often, we are asked what sort of information clients should initially provide.  If you are considering creating or modifying your Will, Trust(s) or other estate planning documents, it would be helpful for you to consider the following:

  • Names, Dates of Birth and Address(es) of you, the client(s)
  • Names, Dates of Birth and Address(es) of your children, if any
  • Names and Address(es) of your alternate / successor personal representative(s) (executor), Trustee(s), Guardian(s) for minor children and any beneficiaries other than those mentioned above
  • Distribution Plan(s), including how much a person will receive (either in dollars or percentages), who will receive, and eligibility requirements (i.e., age, completion of college, W2 matching, etc.)
  • Worst Case Scenario recipients/donees (who should receive your estate in the event that none of your intended beneficiaries survive)

Estate Administration

What do you do when a loved one has died and you are the named executor and/or trustee? How do you probate a Will or administer a Trust?

What do you do when a loved one has died without a will or an estate plan?

When should you seek a guardianship for your aging parent or grandparent? What is a conservatorship? How do you get appointed a guardian and/or conservator?

Let us help you through these issues, your questions and the difficult challenges you are facing.

Ledford & Associates can represent you in every probate matter, including:

  • Trust Administration
  • Adoption
  • Guardianship Petition (court ordered authority for medical / personal affairs)
  • Conservatorship Petition (court ordered authority for financial affairs)
  • Probate Petitions and Litigation (challenging or defending Wills, Trusts and other probate court matters)
  • Non-Divorce Family Law

If you have any questions about any of the above or regarding your own specific needs, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (616) 257-3300 to speak with one of our estate planning attorneys!