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Parent FYI: Teen Rights and Responsibilities

Parents would be well advised to consider the following list of teen rights and responsibilities. Michigan law defines these for teenagers once they turn 18 years of age.

Rights for teens are as follows:

-To vote
-To make a will and power of attorney
-To make their own end-of-life decisions
-To sign a contract in their own name
-To obtain medical treatment without parental consent
-To enlist in the armed forces without parental consent
-To be completely independent from parental control
-To apply for credit in their own name
-To be an organ donor
-To buy a lottery ticket

With these rights come  important responsibilities:

-You will be tried in adult criminal court rather than juvenile court
-Your parents are no longer required to support you
-You may be sued on contracts you sign
-You are eligible for jury duty
-All males must register with the Selective Service

Knowing what’s ahead can help you prepare your children to enjoy the privileges and handle the responsibilities that come with being considered an adult.

Posted in Custody, Identity Theft, Personal Protection | Tagged , |

Planning for your elder care

Thinking ahead to your golden years is difficult because there are so many unknowns. Yet failure to give consideration to what’s ahead can result in the loss of assets, poor care and hardship for your spouse or other family members.

You can express your wishes regarding the level of care you’d like, how you’ll pay for it and protect your assets through estate planning. This exercise in self-determination will provide you and your family members peace of mind going forward.

If you are unable, powers of attorney and healthcare directives allow a trusted representative to manage your financial and medical affairs. That person can even apply for the medical benefits provided by the government if needed with these tools.

Both Medicaid and the Veterans Administration benefits have strict income and asset thresholds.  With advanced planning these benefits can be accessed and managed to best preserve your savings.

Everyone’s aging process is unique.  But we all strive to have quality care and the peace of mind that our affairs are in order. An experienced Elder Care attorney recognizes this and can help you tailor an individualized plan to achieve these goals.

Posted in Beneficiary Designations, Estate Planning, Personal Protections |

Making home inspections a contingency

For most of us, buying a home will be our largest investment.  A home inspection can confirm it’s a good one.

A well-trained and qualified home inspector will review the condition of the house structure and all it’s systems. They climb on the roof, poke at the foundation and crawl into attics. In doing so, they can identify any problems the untrained eye might miss.

If you make a home inspection contingent on your purchase of the house, you can work with the seller to resolve problems before finalizing the deal.

To make the home inspection a contingency, include it in your purchase agreement. If the seller is not able to resolve any issues found in a home inspection to your satisfaction, you can back out of the purchase.

Getting a home inspection before finalizing the purchase of your new home is a wise decision. By identifying issues before you buy a new home, unforeseen (and sometimes expensive) problems can be avoided.

Posted in Real Estate | Tagged , , |

Married Couples Dilemma: Who Gets the Kids?

For busy couples raising a family, taking time to considerwho gets the kids’ is the last thing on the to-do list. In fact, 65% of Americans have nothing in writing regarding the care of their children and distribution of assets upon their passing. Simply put, they do not have a will.
If you have minor children, a will is a must. With this document you can name your children’s legal guardian should you pass before they are of legal age. Without a will, a court will make these decisions on your behalf.
No one is planning to die in the near future, which is why the conversation about naming guardians for your children gets put off. Have that conversation and create a will to ensure that your belongings and most treasured possession, your children, are in good hands.

Posted in Estate Planning | Tagged , , |

Estate Plan Documents: Where are they?

Imagine your loved ones not being able to locate the documents you had prepared to administer your estate? A stressful time just became more challenging. One of the most important things about your estate plan and associated documents is remembering where they are.

Keeping Track
There are three important questions to ask yourself. First, where are your documents? Second, have you told your spouse or family members the location of your documents? Finally, do your documents include the important details such as: account numbers, passwords, names and contact information for advisers and financial institutions.

To Be Clear
An important extra step would be to put together a summary of your estate plan and share it with your family. The summary would outline how your estate plans works and note the location of your documents and how to access them. Here you could include a list of the important details needed to access accounts and financials institutions.

Your Estate Plan
We keep a copy of all estate plans and related documents for our clients. In addition we send reminders to review those documents and make necessary changes. We also provide clients with checklist to help them organize their information into one document to share with family members. Call us if you’d like a copy.

Posted in Estate Planning, Uncategorized | Tagged , |

Digital Asset Estate Planning

Did you know you own assets, separate from your real estate and personal property known as “digital assets”? A digital asset is digitally stored content or an online account owned by an individual.
Your digital assets have personal value and in some cases significant financial value (think of bitcoin or a domain name). Like other assets, in the event of death or disability, planning for others to access these assets on your behalf, is critically important. Just as accessing a bank account that is not yours without permission, accessing on-line accounts that are not yours is against the law.
In most cases using a power of attorney paired with a consent document specifically for your digital assets is sufficient to give digital permission to others during your lifetime. Such a consent can also be paired with a will or trust to allow access upon death. Technology changes fast and the legalities of digital assets will continue to evolve, but one thing is certain, the safety of your digital assets can easily be secured by planning ahead.

Posted in Beneficiary Designations, Estate Planning | Tagged |

Common Questions About Probate

What is probate?
Before the terms of your will can be carried out the court must accept the document. Probate is the name for the acceptance process.

What documents are needed for probate?
The court needs a copy of the will and a death certificate. Once the process is underway, an inventory of all assets and debts owned by the deceased is also required.

Can you avoid the process of probate?
One option is to create a revocable living trust and title your assets in the name of your trust; this is called funding your trust. It is now the record owner of your assets and there is no need for probate. However, any assets outside your trust at the time of death will need to be probated unless they have a beneficiary designation or owned with rights of survivorship with someone who survives you.

The bottom line
When it comes to estate planning, what works for you will depend on your own unique family and financial situation. By using one or more estate planning tools you can create peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.

 

Posted in Beneficiary Designations, Estate Planning | Tagged |

What is Elder Law?

In our practice, Elder Law refers to planning for the health and economic well being of older adults or people with disabilities. This includes dealing with issues related to long term nursing care, guardianship, retirement, Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and more. At the heart of this legal work is asset protection and advanced planning. The aging process is a unique journey for all of us, which makes discussing your options important. Too often we find well intended, but uninformed, decisions have been made which cause undue financial stress or hardship.

Posted in Beneficiary Designations, Estate Planning, Personal Protections | Tagged |

Michigan Eliminates Dower Rights

For over 150 years, Michigan law held that a ‘married woman’ had a dower interest in any real estate owned by her husband. The law dictated that a husband could not sell any of his real estate without the signature and consent of his spouse.

The justification of these dower rights dates back to when women could not legally own property. Dower rights provide that a man’s wife was automatically entitled to one-third ownership of any of her spouse’s property.

Earlier this year Michigan Governor Snyder signed legislation abolishing these rights. Married couples can now own property individually and sell it individually as well.Michigan was the only state that exclusively applied dower rights to women married to men.

The conflicts and inconsistencies for dower rights that were created by the mandated recognition of same sex marriage ultimately motivated the Michigan legislature to pass the package of bills to abolish dower rights.The elimination of dower rights will simplify the legal process for wives who do not appear on a deed or when a married man wishes to transfer property he sole owns.

It should be noted the elimination of dower rights is NOT retroactive. So any property owned, or couples married prior to April 7th when the bill was passed, will still be grandfathered in under the old Dower Rights.

Posted in Real Estate | Tagged |

Michigan Approves Asset Protection Trusts

Michigan recently became the 17th state to allow citizens to form – domestic asset protections truststhat can shield assets from future creditors and lawsuits.

Candidates for this type of trust are those facing liability concerns, high-risk professionals and those with a large net worth.

It’s best to set up this kind of trust far in advance of any creditor problem. In fact Michigan rules state you must provide an affidavit of solvency before creating this trust. While is may seem like an additional hurdle it actually works for your benefit by confirming;

  • You have authority to transfer property to the trust
  • Transfers will not make you insolvent
  • You do not intend to defraud any creditor
  • You are not aware of any pending creditor action against you

The asset protections trust is also useful for a person planning to marry, but wanting to protect premarital wealth in the event of a divorce. In this instance all transfer of assets must be made at least 30 days prior to the marriage.

It’s important to note that when setting up an asset protection trust you become the beneficiary and must name someone else to be a trustee. Yet as the beneficiary you can:

  • Direct trust investment decisions;
  • Remove and replace trustees;
  • Veto distributions from the trust;
  • Receive discretionary distributions of income and/or principal;
  • Receive the income from the trust;
  • Direct how the assets are to be distributed on the transferor’s death

Asset protection trusts are irrevocable and there is two year waiting period that must be completed before assets in the trust are legally shielded from creditors.

While not for everyone the domestic asset protection trust becomes another important tool for tailoring estate planning to your individual needs.

Posted in Estate Planning, Personal Protection | Tagged , |