Estate Planning 101: The Basics

Guest Author Tips for Your Money

Guest Blog by Elisabeth J. Rubel, PLLC

October is Estate Planning Awareness Month, and to help our clients make sure their estate plans are in order, we have asked Betsey Rubel, PLLC to share some estate planning basics.

Betsey Rubel is an attorney and owner of Elisabeth J. Rubel PLLC, a small law firm committed to providing expert legal services to Michigan families with integrity, personal attention, and excellent customer service.

“I practice exclusively in the area of Estate Planning and Probate Administration and Trust Administration. My passion is helping clients achieve peace of mind by having an appropriate estate plan in place that reflects the values and goals of the client.” – Betsey Rubel


For many clients, estate planning has been on their “to do” list for many years. One of the best parts of my job as an estate planning attorney is that I have the opportunity to take a process some people dread (hence the to-do list for many years), and make it one that is smooth, understandable and efficient. Part of my role in the estate planning process is being an educator. It is important that clients understand what they are signing and why it is necessary. While estate planning can take on many different flavors, the most common estate planning documents are a will, a trust, a power of attorney and a patient advocate designation.

Here is what you need to know about each document:

A Will

A will, also referred to as a “Last Will and Testament” is the document that directs how your assets are distributed upon your death. A will can “pour over” into a trust or name outright beneficiaries of your estate. A guardian for minor children is also nominated in a will. If you have children, a will is absolutely essential.

A Trust

While there are many different types of trusts, the most common type of trust is a revocable living trust. Assets that are transferred to a revocable living trust during your lifetime are distributed according to the provisions of the trust upon your death. One of the biggest benefits of a trust is that you design how your assets are managed and distributed upon your death. A revocable living trust is also, well… revocable. You can revoke or amend a trust any time prior to your death. Many clients chose to spread out distributions to younger beneficiaries over a period of years while still providing funds for college education and other financial needs. Another important benefit of a trust is that assets owned by your trust at the time of your death avoid probate.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney allows another individual that you select to carry out your financial affairs. So long as the document is signed prior to disability, it allows a trusted advisor to pay your bills, file your tax returns, apply for benefits or other important tasks, in the event of your disability. A Power of Attorney is frequently used to avoid Guardianship or Conservatorship proceedings with the probate court.

Patient Advocate Designation

A Patient Advocate is an individual who makes medical decisions for you in the event of your disability. You can nominate a trusted family member or friend to serve as your advocate in the event you are unable to make your own medical decisions. You can also specify your wishes in this document as they relate to your medical care.

Have additional questions or ready to start the process? 

Contact a trusted attorney to check this important task off your “to do” list. If you have additional questions for Betsey, you can reach her at (248) 635-5028 or betsey@ejrlawfirm.com.


Elisabeth J. Rubel, PLLC is not affiliated with Kennedy Financial Group, HighPoint Advisor Group, or LPL Financial.

LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

The information provided here is for general information only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice.

Kennedy Financial Group, HighPoint Advisor Group, and LPL Financial do not provide tax or legal advice.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.