October 20 - 26, 2013: Estate Planning Awareness Week

WHEREAS, careful estate planning can greatly assist Michigan citizens in preserving assets built over a lifetime for the benefit of family, heirs, or charities;

WHEREAS, it is estimated that over 120 million Americans do not have up-to-date estate plans to protect themselves or their families in the event of sickness, accidents, or untimely death;

WHEREAS, a 2004 Roper poll commissioned by the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants found that two-thirds of Americans over age 65 believe they lack the knowledge necessary to adequately plan for retirement, and nearly one half of all Americans are unfamiliar with basic retirement tools, such as a 401K plan;

WHEREAS, estate planning involves many considerations, including safekeeping of important documents, documentation of assets, operation of law in Michigan, preparation of legal instruments, insurance, availability of trust arrangements, charitable giving, inter vivos care of the benefactor, and other important factors;

WHEREAS, estate planning encourages timely decisions about the method of holding title to certain assets, the designation of beneficiaries, and the possible transfer of assets during the life of the benefactor;

WHEREAS, many Michigan citizens are unaware that lack of estate planning and `financial illiteracy' may cause their assets to be taxed at maximum rates or, by default through the complex process of probate, to be disposed of to unintended parties;

WHEREAS, alternatives to disposition of assets after death, such as planned gift-giving, may accomplish a benefactor's goals and reduce the amount of an estate given to taxes;

WHEREAS, careful planning can prevent family members or other beneficiaries from being subjected to complex legal and administrative processes requiring significant expenditure of time, and greatly reduce confusion or even animosity among family members or other heirs upon the death of a loved one;

WHEREAS, important considerations as to donation of organs and use of life support functions may be made through the estate planning process;

WHEREAS, the implementation of an estate plan starts with sound education and planning, and then may require the proper drafting and execution of appropriate legal documents, including wills, trusts, and durable powers of attorney for health care;

WHEREAS, the Financial and Estate Planning Council of Metropolitan Detroit, a member of the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils, representing over 28,000 estate planning professionals, together with the Universal Press Syndicate, the largest independent newspaper syndicate in the world, are prepared to provide such educational information to the public in a focused manner during Estate Planning Awareness week:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Rick Snyder, governor of the state of Michigan, do hereby proclaim Sunday, October 20 through Saturday, October 26 as Estate Planning Awareness Week.