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Kalamazoo Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate 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 Willis Law, we provide skilled representation to individuals, couples and families throughout West 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 West 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 needs 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 Securities 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, which are employer-sponsored plans that enable employees to save in an account with the income tax on the deposits and interest deferred until they are withdrawn at retirement
  • 403(b) accounts, which operate similarly to 401(k) plans, available to self-employed ministers and employees of nonprofits, public education and hospital organizations
  • 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), a worker's personal account for which the deposits and interest are tax-deferred until they are withdrawn at retirement
  • ESOP (employee stock ownership plan), in which employees are allocated shares of company securities
  • PERS (public employee pension plan), provided to employees of federal, state or local government

Estate Planning and Asset Protection Questions? We Have Answers.

For sound advice on your estate planning matters, contact us today for a free initial consultation. We have office locations in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Paw Paw.

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