© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ingham County partners with Cooley Law for senior estate planning seminars

A series of papers on a wooden table. The first is titled "Last Will and Testament of John Doe" followed by legal text.
Ken Mayer
Ingham County officials report there are more than 200 properties in the area that were never formally transferred to a living person before the original owner died.

Ingham County is working to make information about estate planning more accessible to seniors by partnering with Cooley Law School.

That’s as the county encounters issues with managing estates left by deceased individuals.

Officials report there are more than 200 properties in Ingham County that were never formally transferred to a living person before the original owner died. That can create problems for the next of kin hoping to claim an estate, like managing delinquent property taxes or foreclosure.

“If you do advanced planning, you can avoid some of these things, you can make the process of passing real property easier,” said Dustin Foster, a Cooley Law professor and executive director of the Sixty Plus Inc. Elderlaw Clinic.

The group provides legal services to seniors, such as managing deeds and drafting their wills. The organization is staffed by law students and licensed attorneys.

Foster said there’s been an increased interest in estate planning since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You can have people in place that if you're unable to manage it, somebody can manage it for you to avoid issues,” said Foster.

The absence of a succession plan can also force probate courts to determine who should be granted ownership rights of an estate.

The county is collaborating with the clinic to hold educational estate planning seminars for the elderly.

Ingham County Register of Deeds Derrick Quinney said estate planning is important, but he acknowledged the process is difficult to go through.

“Folks are reluctant to want to talk about [estate planning],” Quinney said. “Because particularly as it relates to end-of-life situations — folks aren’t very comfortable with that.”

Foster said he frequently hears from seniors who are intimidated by aspects of estate planning, such as going before a probate court. He added the seminars aim to clarify the legal requirements and demystify the process.

“Life happens, and it’s best to have a plan in place in case something does happen instead of reacting to the issue.”

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
Journalism at this station is made possible by donors who value local reporting. Donate today to keep stories like this one coming. It is thanks to your generosity that we can keep this content free and accessible for everyone. Thanks!