Estate Planning

Estate planning is more than just preparing a will or a trust. We investigate all possible avenues to help you transfer your estate to your intended beneficiaries. This often involves sophisticated tax and charitable gift planning. It might also include developing a lifetime gifting program for your children, or figuring out the best way to set up a college fund for the grandchildren. Sometimes we are asked to devise a creative method of avoiding probate, in a cost-effective manner, or to assist with Medicaid Planning.
Whatever the strategy, the diligent attorneys of Cunningham Dalman’s Estate Planning, Wills & Trusts Practice Group in Holland, Michigan work closely with you to attain your goals.

Voted Best Law Firm in Holland

Estate Planning Articles

Should You Have an Estate Plan?

Know Your Options. Plan today & Your Family will thank you! 

Our Estate Planning Services

Trust Attorney - Creating Trusts

Estate planning trusts are generally used to minimize taxes and avoid probate court. The two main types are revocable & irrevocable.

more about trusts

Preparing / Modifying Wills

We assist clients with multiple types of wills: simple wills, living wills, testamentary trust wills, and more.

About Wills

Trust Administration

Our attorneys are skilled administrators of trusts & estates and assist trustees to fulfill their fiduciary duties.

trust administration

Special Needs Trust Attorney

A "Supplemental Needs Trust" is something every parent or grandparent with a disabled child should consider.

Specialty Trusts

Trust & Estate Litigation

Our attorneys represent beneficiaries, trustees, and personal representatives with estate litigation and probate litigation matters.

Trust and Estate

Guardianship & Conservatorship

A guardian makes legal decisions for the benefit of another, whether a minor or adult.

  • Guardianships Over Minors
  • Adult Guardianships

A conservator makes decisions about an incapacitated adult's property.  One individual can be both the guardian and the conservator.

Learn more

Powers of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a written authorization allowing someone to legally act on your behalf for legal, financial, and healthcare decisions. Two main types in Michigan are:

  • Durable POA for Health Care
  • Durable POA for Finances
Read more

Probate Attorney

Probate involves transferring a deceased person's assets and appointing a trusted person to do so through the probate court process.

Read More

Start Your Estate Plan Today!

Know Your Options. Plan today & Your Family will thank you! 

understanding the different types

Establishing Trusts

One of the main advantages of a trust is “avoiding taxes and the whole probate court process”. In a “Trust”, you transfer property to a trustee to hold the property for a beneficiary.  This type of instrument allows assets to be transferred after or during your lifetime.

Common Types of Trusts:
Other Areas of Expertise:
Planned Giving
planning ahead

Preparing / Modifying Wills

Wills are one tool of estate planning to ensure your assets are distributed in the manner you wish. Without a valid Will, a set of laws in the State of Michigan will determine who receives assets within your estate.

Common Types of Wills:
Michigan Probate

In the State of Michigan, a “Will” is your ticket or entry into Probate Court. At the time of your death, your “Will” must be delivered to the Probate Court and this begins the process of administering your Estate.

In most situations, our Estate Planning attorneys will suggest other instruments to limit or totally avoid the Probate Court process. Our goal is to help you understand the options available and effective ways to use them.

code of conduct

Trust Administration

In addition to planning for estate distribution, our attorneys and staff are skilled administrators of trusts and estates. While many estate plans do not require Probate Court proceedings, when this does occur, the attorneys and staff of our Estate Planning, Wills & Trusts Practice Group pursue the best possible outcomes.

We have extensive experience in handling estate administration issues in Holland and elsewhere across the state of Michigan.

We advise individual and corporate fiduciaries on all aspects of estate and trust administration, including:

specialty trusts

Special Needs Trusts

A Special Needs Trust (SNT) allows a disabled person to receive assets/property while retaining the essential government benefits they’ll require for life.  An SNT can also protect assets from Medicaid Spend-down when an older person needs nursing home care.

Other Types of Specialty Trusts:
Special Needs Trust May Be Your Answer
Types of disputes & litigation

Estate Litigation & Legal Disputes

People in the United States can sue anyone for anything at any time and even the best estate plan can be challenged in court.  Estate litigation is more common than you might believe and comes from ex-spouses, estranged children, distant cousins, or anyone who wants to file a claim against your estate.  Our attorneys at Cunningham Dalman are well versed in all aspects of estate litigation and provide legal representation for Beneficiaries, Trustees, and Personal Representatives.

Common Reasons for Litigation:
caring for our loved ones

Guardianship & Conservatorship

For parents and family members, it’s important to plan out the long-term care for minors and/or adults with growing health challenges. Guardianships allow you to plan out the well being for the individual and Conservatorships deal with an incapacitated adult’s property matters.

If an incapacitated adult has a “Durable Power of Attorney” or a “Designation of Patient Advocate”, you may not need a guardianship and/or conservator.  Please consult with us on the many options available to ensure your loved ones are protected.

As mentioned previously, guardianships in Michigan fall into “Guardianship Over Minors” and “Adult Guardianship”.

Common Types of Guardianships in Michigan:
Reasons Guardianships Make Sense:
ensuring you have a voice

Durable Power of Attorney

Our attorneys at Cunningham Dalman are experienced in handling cases related to Michigan Power of Attorney and other important matters related to incapacity.

In short, a Power of Attorney (POA) allows someone else to legally act on your behalf in the event you become ill or incapacitated. The two main types of Michigan POAs are:

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

This is sometimes referred to as your “Healthcare Power of Attorney” or your “Patient Advocate” and legally designates someone to make healthcare decisions if you cannot act for yourself.

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

This is generally drafted at the same time as your “Healthcare POA” but designates someone you want to leave in charge of your finances & legal affairs if you cannot act for yourself. 

Estate Planning FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

In simple terms, a Will only goes into effect after you die and directs who will receive your property. A Trust is active at creation and allows you to begin distributing assets before death, at death, or afterwards.

Most individuals should review their estate plan every 4 – 5 years. More immediate reviews will need to occur when tax laws change or your family situation changes (birth, marriage, divorce, etc.)

Unfortunately, this happens more than we like to admit.  Recent surveys suggest anywhere from 50-60% of Americans don’t have a will.

When this occurs, your assets will pass according to state law and likely not according to your own wishes.  In addition, your estate will pay additional taxes and probate fees leaving less for your loved ones. 

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