Estate Planning

Estate Planning in Traverse City: How to Preserve Your Property’s Tax Cap 

Traverse City, Michigan, and the surrounding areas are witnessing an unprecedented rise in property values. This surge poses unique challenges for estate planning, particularly in preserving property tax caps during the transfer of ownership. This blog post aims to guide property owners through incorporating property tax considerations into their estate plans, ensuring their legacies enrich rather than burden their heirs. 

The Importance of Property Tax Caps in Estate Planning 

Michigan’s property tax laws cap annual increases in property taxes, a boon for property owners in rapidly appreciating markets like Traverse City. Integrating strategies to avoid uncapping into estate planning is critical as transferring property ownership can “uncap” property taxes, significantly increasing the financial burden on the new owners.  

Legal Instruments and Strategies 

  1. Living Trusts: A living trust allows property owners to transfer their properties to heirs without going through probate, potentially avoiding the uncapping of property taxes. It’s a seamless way to ensure properties in Traverse City pass on without increasing the tax burden. 
  1. Lady Bird Deeds: This unique legal instrument allows property owners to retain control over their property during their lifetime while designating a beneficiary to inherit the property upon their death, bypassing the uncapping rules. 
  1. Joint Ownership: Strategically structuring joint ownership arrangements can also help prevent property tax uncapping. By carefully planning the transfer of ownership shares, property owners can minimize tax implications. 

Special Considerations for Traverse City 

Given Traverse City’s desirability and the consequent value of its real estate, employing these strategies requires careful consideration. Waterfront properties and family cottages in particular stand to benefit significantly from thoughtful estate planning that takes property tax caps into account. 


Estate planning in Traverse City demands an understanding of how to preserve property tax benefits across generations. By leveraging tools like living trusts and Lady Bird deeds, property owners can ensure their estates or family cottages remain a blessing to their heirs. Proper planning not only secures a financial legacy but also peace of mind, knowing that the beauty and value of Traverse City properties are preserved for the future.