Disability and Divorce Special Considerations

Every divorce is unique but doubly so when one or more of the parties has a disability. Whether it’s a physical handicap, chronic debilitating disease or unresolved mental health issue, one of the big concerns is making sure both parties have income and health insurance after divorce. Prior to divorce, often one spouse is employed and supporting the person with disabilities. Additionally, many people with disabilities also receive some governmental supplementary income or Medicaid. Experienced Michigan Divorce Attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler takes all of that into account when negotiating divorce settlements that involve one or more people with disabilities. “There are Continue Reading…

Tax Exemption Portability Crucial in Estate Planning

When people think portability, they imagine lightweight laptops and folding chairs. These items owe their existence to ingenious inventors satisfying the craving for convenient transport. With this definition in mind then, it only makes sense that an estate planning tool designed for easy “transport” of tax exemption from one person to another would be called Tax Exemption Portability. “After portability came into being on January 1, 2011, the unused estate tax exclusion amount could be “ported” to the surviving spouse for use in making gifts and sheltering his or her own estate, writes estate tax expert Lorraine F. New in her Continue Reading…

Pet Trusts not just for Rich and Famous

Mick Jagger once said, “anything worth doing is worth overdoing,” and that certainly applies to over-the-top Pet Trusts. There are countless examples of extravagant pet inheritances like multi-million dollar residences, gourmet food plans and high-class transportation. For instance, Megan Johnson writes in her blog, “Will Bark for Trust Fund: How the world’s richest pets spend their inheritance” about “Conchita, the Chihuahua of Miami heiress Gail Posner, and her “sisters” (a Maltese and a Yorkie) are chauffeured around town in Conchita’s very own gold Cadillac Escalade. When Posner passed away in 2010, Conchita and her four-legged siblings inherited her Miami mansion Continue Reading…

Won the lottery? Now What?

What would you do if you won the lottery for $1.5 billion? Michigan is buzzing about the universal hot topic of the moment – the historic Powerball prize. Almost everyone has a fantasy of what they would do if they won the lottery. They’d travel, buy a plane, send all the grandkids to college, donate to charity, etc. At any given moment this Tuesday, at least one person is secretly daydreaming about their life on a private island. All the imagining and conversing may be fun in the hypothetical, but what if you really truly won the lottery. There are enormous tax, Continue Reading…

Cohabitation Rates on the Rise

Are cohabitating couples covered legally? National and Michigan cohabitation rates are up in recent years. Way up. In fact, the number of non-married couples living together in 2010 is almost double the rate of 2000. The related graphic shows that almost 8 million heterosexual couples nationwide were cohabitating in 2010. That’s not even taking into account the same-sex couples that did not have the legal option to marry at that time. Cohabitation Rates Increase These statistics were cited in a recent Continuing Education Seminar for Family Law Attorneys titled, “The Changing Face of Today’s Family and Its Impact on Family Law,” Continue Reading…

Lady Bird Deed is Estate Planning Tool

A “Lady Bird Deed” is a tool of estate planning that allows the transfer of ownership of property to an heir. It’s more official title is “enhanced life estate deed.” In Michigan, by utilizing a Lady Bird Deed, property can be passed down to direct relatives without probate or “uncapping” the property tax valuation. These are standard benefits of life trusts. What makes a Lady Bird Deed unique is the transferor’s retention of the right to sell or lease the property during his or her lifetime. As Rockford, MI Lawyer Kary C. Frank’s article, “The Search for The Lady Bird Continue Reading…

Complete Estate Plan is not Just About the Money

When trying to save money, some people choose the minimum when it comes to creating a will. After all, a will’s a will, right? Not so. A thoughtful and complete estate plan will can save relatives months of heartache and expense that results when disputes go to probate court. In fact, many times probate can be completely avoided. In addition to assets, retirement funds, real estate, and valuables like art, jewelry and vehicles, a will needs to cover items of “emotional value.” Heirlooms and personal items can be distressing for family members to split after a loved-one’s death. Do-It-Yourself and Continue Reading…