Practice Areas


Trusts & Estates

Looking to the future and taking steps to protect yourself and your loved ones if you can no longer communicate your wishes is a process that can be uncomfortable and intimidating. However, it is essential that you create a comprehensive estate plan that sets forth your wishes for own medical care and the distribution of your assets upon your death.

Failing to plan for your estate, regardless of your wealth, can have serious consequences to your loved ones. Monaghan, P.C. has more than a century of experience representing individuals in their estate planning needs, including the transfer of family assets from generation to generation.

Monaghan estate planning attorneys are experienced in all aspects of estate planning and administration, including drafting documents and making designations such as:

  • Wills
  • Living wills (advanced health care directives)
  • Trusts
  • Living trusts
  • Irrevocable and revocable trusts
  • Special needs trusts
  • Charitable trusts
  • Power of attorney (for medical or financial)
  • Medical assistance planning (Medicaid planning and asset protection)

We also manage the probate administration of decedents’ estates and the utilization of probate avoidance alternatives, such as revocable and irrevocable trusts and family partnerships. We also act as counsel for corporate fiduciaries in probate and estate litigation and special asset disputes.

The Estate Planning Process

On a fee basis, Monaghan attorneys will review your estate planning objectives. We will conduct a confidential analysis of your current assets, debts, income, and expenses. Family dynamics as well as tax and probate-avoidance planning are also considered. Estate planning is highly personal.

In conjunction with our initial discussion, we will have you complete an estate planning questionnaire. We will then present to you a proposed estate plan and provide to you the draft documents. Our documents are clear, effective, and easy to understand. We deliver these drafts to you and explain in detail what each document accomplishes. You then have as much time as you need to read and review your plan documents. We encourage you to call us with any questions or additions you would like as we work together to create an effective plan that you understand.

Once the documents are finalized and approved by you, you will come to our office to execute the documents with witnesses and a notary present. Any required trust funding will also be discussed. We can fund the trust for you, or we will provide to you a set of instructions. We are always available to you for help along the way.

Tax Planning

Tax planning is an important aspect of organizing your finances and estate for the future. However, it can be difficult to complete on your own, as tax matters can be complex and overwhelming. An experienced lawyer can review your options and assist you in determining your current and future needs.

The Monaghan tax planning attorneys provide legal counsel and advice to clients throughout Michigan’s and out of state in tax planning. Established over 100 years ago, our firm has always maintained the highest levels of professionalism and client service to meet our clients’ needs.

A significant portion of Monaghan’s tax planning practice involves advising and representing our clients in matters regarding federal gift and estate taxes, and state inheritance taxes.

Our lawyers advise clients on matters regarding tax implications for:

  • Estates
  • Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts
  • Beneficiaries
  • Private Foundations
  • Charitable Trusts

Protecting your assets by planning for tax matters and avoiding probate court is an essential step in preparing your estate plan. We can help you understand what taxes may apply in which situations and how it may directly affect you and your assets.

Business Succession Planning

We also advise owners of closely held businesses on tax and financial planning issues related to business continuity, including buy-sell agreements, succession planning and recapitalizations. We also have experience with preparing your business for sale and making it attractive to potential buyers, including formalizing manuals and procedures and working with you in organizing the business financials statements and accounts.

Business succession planning is a complex task. A thoughtfully prepared business succession plan prepared by Monaghan attorneys will ensure that the transfer of ownership goes smoothly.

Trust & Probate Administration and Litigation

The experience Monaghan probate and trust attorneys handle all matters related to probate and probate litigation throughout the Metropolitan Detroit area, including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Livingston, Genesee, Monroe, and Lapeer counties.

A trust is a charitable or estate planning tool that allows an individual to make specific directions regarding the use of assets and gifts. Assets placed in a trust pass according to the terms of the trust and are not subject to probate. A trust allows an individual to retain some control over the use and disposition of assets without the tax burdens and other impediments.

Probate is the process by which a decedent’s property (the “estate”) is passed to his or her heirs and others named in the will or in accordance with the law if the decedent did not have a will. The entire process, under jurisdiction of the probate court can take from five months to two years depending on the complexity of the estate. A well-constructed estate plan will minimize estate and federal and state estate taxes while helping avoid conflict in the distribution of the estate.

The first essential steps in the probate process include:

  • Petitioning the court for appointment of a Personal Representative
  • Identifying and preparing the inventory of the decedent’s property
  • Establishing the value of the property
  • Paying the debts and taxes of the estate
  • Distributing the remaining property as the Decedent’s will directs
  • Filing appropriate estate tax returns

Unfortunately, even the most meticulously crafted estate plan can be contested. Disputes may arise regarding the validity or interpretation of a will or trust. When you find yourself involved in a will contest or a trust dispute, the experienced trust and probate lawyers at Monaghan can help. Our experienced trust and probate lawyers represent beneficiaries and fiduciaries, including executors, trustees, conservators, and guardians, in the following probate and trust litigation matters:

  • Accounting actions
  • Claims against fiduciaries
  • Trust contests and reformation
  • Will contests
  • Will and trust construction and litigation
  • Joint bank account ownership

Our experience enables us to counsel clients during all aspects of the estate planning and administration process. Contact a qualified Michigan probate and trust attorney for advice and guidance with your probate needs.

Probate Litigation

Situations arise in which there can be a dispute among heirs as how the estate is being handled or the rights of the heirs or the distributions. At the Monaghan firm we first try to work with the fiduciary and the heirs to amicably resolve the areas of disagreement and open the lines of communication. If a dispute cannot be resolved amicably, and there is an argument over the terms of and estate plan or a distribution of an estate, an individual may challenge the estate with a will contest or probate lawsuit. We are aggressive litigators who can help protect your rights in probate court.

The Monaghan firm has experience representing clients in contested probate and trust litigation matters. If you find yourself in estate dispute or are uncertain of your rights, contact a Monahan attorney to review the situation and discuss your options and rights. You do not want to lose your rights as a beneficiary or your rightful inheritance.

Contact Ronald J. Zador at or 248.283.6642 or Susan M. Strunk at 248.283.6639 to discuss your trust and estate or probate law issues.

Meet Our Attorneys

Thomas J. McCarthy

Thomas J. McCarthy

Ronald J. Zadora

Ronald J. Zadora

Tracy L. Miller

Tracy L. Miller

Michael G. Stevens

Michael G. Stevens

Susan M. Strunk

Susan M. Strunk


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