Patrick Henry is credited with having the first recorded trust in our new nation. However, trust origins
go back to the time of Roman Law. As far back as 800 A.D., English peasants created this tool to protect themselves from abuses of Kings and Queens, who stole their land in the name of the Crown.

As an estate planning attorney, I like to think that Patrick Henry uttered these famous words knowing,
when he faced death, that his family would be protected by his creation of the trust.

Why, then, are so many people still unclear as to what it means? Studies continually show that nearly half
of all Americans pass without a plan in place. A large percentage of those who do have only a will. I believe people fail to plan out of a lack of knowledge. I educate people everyday of the benefits of a properly funded estate plan and the avoidance of the costly pitfalls that result with one not in place.

I am often asked the same questions and have comprised a list which I hope you find helpful.

  1. “Do I need anything more than a Will?”
    • A Will is simply an invitation to Probate Court after you pass. While the expressed intentions may be carried out,
    your estate will still suffer the delays and costs I have found to be as much as 8% of the deceased gross estate.
  2. “What happens if I become disabled?”
    • If one is unable to make either financial or health decisions, another person must be granted that authority. Prior to the onset of this disability, this power can be given in the form of a Durable Power of Attorney. After the disability manifests itself,
    one will most likely have to incur the cost of petitioning the court for an appointment of Guardian and Conservator.
  3. “Will my estate be subject to estate or inheritance tax?”
    • Currently, the Federal Estate tax exemption is $12.06 million. There is no inheritance tax in Michigan.
  4. “Am I giving away my assets by placing them in a Revocable Trust?”
    • A trust means that you do not hold title to your assets; your trust does. The transfer of title does not mean you lose control. You maintain the same power to buy, sell, transfer, borrow, and do whatever you wish with YOUR ASSETS. There is no difference between the day you place the asset in the trust than the day before you did so.
  5. “How do I gift my favorite Catholic Central?”
    • Within your Revocable Trust specific bequests can be made in different amounts, percentages, or dates of distribution.
  6. “How much should I expect to pay for an Estate?”
    • I charge a flat fee depending on the type of plan you choose.

The creation of an estate plan is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Without a plan in place, you may have a costly and unavoidable nightmare.

Joseph P. Corriveau ’88 Owner and Operator of The Corriveau Law Firm, located in historic downtown Northville, at 324 East Main. Mr. Corriveau is a certified Elder Law attorney and Mediator whose practice is focused on Estate and Family law. Joe can be reached by phone (248) 380-2828, or through his website

Published in Catholic Central Aluminator, Spring 2022 – Guest Columnist Joseph P. Corriveau ’88