When children are interviewed in legal matters

Often we have client’s who wonder, why doesn’t the court want to talk to my child or why aren’t my child’s words taken seriously.  As we all know, even for adults, interviews conducted in a legal context are often a stressful undertaking for anyone who must go through the process, but this fact is especially true for children. Whether it be in a custody case, a criminal proceeding, or a civil dispute, the underdeveloped child mind can find it difficult to understand exactly what is happening or the reasons behind why they have been put in the position they find Continue Reading…

Banking Laws and Marijuana

The recreational use of marijuana has become much more accepted in recent years, so far gaining legality in ten states, among these Michigan as of the recent midterm elections. While many states have opted for the legalization of recreational marijuana use, it is still illegal under federal law, leading to a variety of issues for the marijuana industry. The most important among these is the refusal from the bank industry to work with marijuana businesses, forcing most marijuana businesses to operate entirely in cash. Although marijuana businesses are able to operate legally in many states, the banking institutions are not Continue Reading…

Happy New Year, even during the holidays we know communication is the key to happy clients

While most lawyers do enjoy having a life outside of the office and would like to put their work aside, even if just for an evening, sometimes lawyers can put work off too long. Minor things like responding to emails and returning phone calls can be problematic. Kristen D. Hardy hits on this “Email Decorum: No Excuses” an article appearing in the July/August 2018 issue of Wisconsin Lawyer. As Ms. Hardy points out, we are as connected as ever, but often times it does not seem that way because of such lapses in communication. Obviously we are all looking to Continue Reading…

Women in the Law

A Trailblazing Journey: From Sarah Killgore Wertman to Today In their article, A Trailblazing Journey: From Sarah Killgore Wertman to Today, Kristina Bilowus and Nicole M. Smithson discuss the trailblazers who have made the legal field more accessible to and accepting of female attorneys. The article begins with a discussion of Sarah Killgore Wertman, the first woman admitted to practice law in Michigan and goes on to discuss the role of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM) in advancing the interests of female attorneys in Michigan. The article also identifies other major trailblazers such as former WLMA president Judge Continue Reading…

Marijuana Laws in Michigan

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       The legal status of marijuana possession and usage in Michigan is in a state of flux. There has been a great deal of change regarding the laws on marijuana possession and usage in the state over the last decade or so. What started as support for the usage of medical marijuana through a voter initiative has slowly morphed into relaxed views and attitudes of marijuana to the point there is now an effort to legalize even recreational usage through a ballot initiative in November 2018. In his article “An Introduction to the Ballot Initiative of the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Michigan” in the August 2018 Michigan Bar Journal, Matthew Abel points out that the primary purpose of the act is to allow for personal possession and cultivation, ensure safety of marijuana products and establishments through regulation, and remove marijuana from the illicit market.

This ever changing landscape around the legality and acceptability of marijuana has created not only significant confusion among Michiganders, but there are a variety of concerns regarding the use, possession and growing of marijuana that move just beyond the normal criminal concerns that most people are aware of. It is important to understand how these changes can affect you. It is also worth noting that even though Michigan currently allows for medical marijuana use and cultivation and even if the November 2018 ballot initiative passes, marijuana will still be illegal pursuant to federal laws.  In light of the budding marijuana industry and the growing legitimacy that comes with it, there is more overlap in the family law practice area every day. Whether it is parties using it to treat a medical issue, growing marijuana for their own use or as a caregiver, or operating a marijuana related business, there are a lot of ways in which a client’s interaction with marijuana can affect their divorce or custody matter. A common mistaken belief is that just because it is more acceptable, and legal under certain circumstances, a court will not consider marijuana usage in terms of a custody case, which is not true.

Based on the novelty of a lot of these issues, where once illegal and derided behaviors are becoming legal and acceptable, it’s hard to predict how a court will consider marijuana usage. If the courts’ attitude toward alcohol use provides any guidance or indication, the general thought is some use is okay, but not to the point where it affects a person’s ability to parent in anyway. It seems like a no-brainer, but to be clear, being under the influence of drugs and alcohol during parenting time is always frowned upon by the courts. Courts are quick to take action if they think alcohol or drug usage is affecting a person’s ability to safely and effectively parent their child and can suspend parenting time altogether, require supervised parenting time, order alcohol and drug assessments, or take various other actions to protect the children from someone they feel is a danger. Therefore, parents should be sober and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol during their parenting time. Outside of your parenting time, courts are generally more tolerant of moderate alcohol and marijuana usage.

While our magic eight ball cannot tell you the outcomes with one hundred percent accuracy, our thorough knowledge litigating these issues give us the ability to thoroughly inform clients on all possible outcomes.  It is best to consult with an attorney with a deep understanding of not just the immediate issues you face, but can also recognize other issues that can arise that may not have been considered. The attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler and Associates are well-versed on these issues and we urge you to contact our Milford, Michigan office at (248) 676-1000 for more information about marijuana issues in your family law case as well as how we can address your specific needs. We help clients throughout Southeastern Michigan, including Genesee, Oakland, Livingston, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties, as well as Mid-Michigan in Clare, Gladwin, Ogemaw, and Roscommon Counties. Our experienced attorneys have counseled such clients in Milford; Hartland; Highland; White Lake; Commerce; Walled Lake; Waterford; West Bloomfield; South Lyon; New Hudson; Brighton; Howell; Ann Arbor; Holly; Fenton; Flint; Linden; Clarkston; Houghton Lake; Higgins Lake; Roscommon and many more local communities.

Estate Planning for Your Pets

Love and affection for our family and friends is usually the driving force behind a person completing an estate plan. Whether it be trying to protect and provide for our family and friends after we are gone, or just trying to give them a simple thank you for being an important part of our lives, a detailed estate plan is the best way to guarantee these wishes and desires are carried out as intended. Without an estate plan, your estate and everything you’ve worked to earn throughout your life is subject to the intestate laws of your state. In other Continue Reading…

New Ways to Help Clients with Less Cost

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Limited Scope Representation and How It Can Save You Money

With the high cost of litigation many people are turning to self-representation when pursuing legal matters rather than hiring an attorney. Unfortunately, individuals who represent themselves often have limited knowledge about the law and the Court system. This not only causes delays and confusion for the self-represented individual but can also have dire legal consequences. So how does one walk the line between adequate legal representation and affordability? The answer just became a little simpler: Limited Scope Representation.

http://www.michbar.org/file/barjournal/article/documents/pdf4article3403.pdf

On January 1, 2018 the new limited scope representation rules became effective, allowing attorneys to offer limited representation in civil cases. Essentially, the new rules allow an attorney to step in for a client only on the matters a client isn’t comfortable or capable of handling themselves. Now, rather than having to pay an attorney to handle every detail of your case from start to finish, you can hire an attorney to only tackle particular items.

Attorneys can offer limited scope representation by ghostwriting or by entering a limited appearance. Ghostwriting is the process in which an attorney prepares pleadings and other papers for a client without signing them. By doing so, the client is able to ensure that all documents and pleadings are properly filled out while still being able to pursue their case without the attorney, saving thousands of dollars.

Attorneys can also offer limited scope representation by entering a limited appearance. Limited appearance is the process in which an attorney can appear in court on behalf of the client. For example, an individual in an otherwise simple divorce may want to hire an attorney to exclusively appear in court to argue a complicated motion. Limited appearance allows the individual to hire an attorney to only appear in court for that issue, again, saving the individual up to thousands of dollars.

However, 2 conditions must be met before an attorney can offer you limited scope representation. First, the limited scope representation must be reasonable under the circumstances. As Darin Day said in his article, New Limited Scope Rules Benefit Underemployed Attorneys and Overburdened Courts, “it is seldom, if ever, appropriate for an attorney to attempt to divide what the client wishes to be a general representation into a series of LSR’s.” Thus, it might be inappropriate for an attorney to offer limited scope representation when the client wishes to have the attorney work on more than one issue.

Second, the client must give informed consent. When pursuing limited scope representation, you, as the client, should leave your attorney’s office knowing exactly what your attorney will be doing on your behalf, and what they will not be doing. Thus, it is always recommended that you obtain a letter of engagement from the attorney that specifically outlines the tasks the attorney will perform.

While limited scope representation is not appropriate in all cases, the attorneys at the Law Office of Kathryn M. Wayne-Spindler know that clients want to choose the most frugal option. Kathryn M. Wayne-Spindler and her entire staff are ready and able to enter limited scope representation for those clients who would most benefit from limited representation.

 

Southeastern Michigan Counties Served:
Oakland . Washtenaw . Genesee . Wayne . Livingston

Southeastern Michigan Communities Served
Ann Arbor . Brighton . Burton . Commerce . Fenton . Flint . Grand Blanc . Hartland . Highland . Howell . Linden . Milford . New Hudson. Northville . Novi . South Lyon . Walled Lake . Waterford . West Bloomfield . White Lake . Wixom and many more

Mid-Michigan Counties Served:
Clare . Gladwin . Ogemaw . Roscommon

Mid-Michigan Communities Served:
Clare . Gladwin . Grant Township . Harrison . Higgins Lake . Houghton Lake . Midland . Prudenville . Roscommon . Rose . St. Helen . West Branch .

Anthony Bourdain’s estate planning should make all blended families and divorced parents consider their estate plans

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Why Estate Planning is Important:

It is a common misconception that estate planning is only necessary for the incredibly rich or to avoid high death taxes. With the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which eliminated the federal estate taxes, many people no longer see a need for estate planning. In fact, only 40% of Americans have an estate plan. However, estate planning remains as relevant today as it did prior to 2017 because estate planning is not just for the wealthy and it is not just a mechanism to avoid taxes.

After death, your estate enters into probate. Probate is a process whereby a court grants access to your assets. This process is costly and often takes months or years to complete. A careful estate plan, such as that of Anthony Bourdain, can avoid this costly and lengthy probate process. In particular, a revocable trust can be created to allow families “more immediate access to assets and save on legal and court fees.” Tracy Craig, Is Estate Planning Now Dead?

Not only does estate planning reduce the cost and time spent in probate, but estate planning also helps ensure that your assets go to the intended recipients. For example, in his estate plan, Anthony Bourdain left his frequent flyer rewards to his estranged wife. According to Megan Gorman’s article How Anthony Bourdain’s Estate Plan Reflected the Two Most Important Parts of His Life, “68% of American adults have a credit card that earns travel rewards.” Not all of these loyalty programs are the same and many require a designated beneficiary through an estate plan. In fact, some programs do not allow the asset to pass onto a beneficiary at all. Through his carefully devised estate plan, Anthony Bourdain was able to ensure that his wife benefited from his estate in the way he intended.

Blended families also pose a complication in ensuring the intended recipient gets their share. For instance, simple estate plans in which one spouse leaves everything to the other spouse can result in disaster. It is somewhat typical, after the death of the first spouse, to see the second spouse change the will and remove the step-children, preventing them access to their parent’s assets. Proper estate planning can guarantee that all the intended beneficiaries will receive their share of the estate.

Further, siblings often struggle to settle estates among themselves. For example, when a house is left to all the children in equal shares, all the children need to agree to sell the house and all the children need to agree on the price of sale. This often results in squabbling and costly legal battles. An estate plan can specify who is in charge of these decisions and how they are to be handled, preventing such complications and conflict.

In addition to designating who benefits from the estate and who makes decisions for the estate, an estate plan can also outline when the intended beneficiary will inherit their share. Divorce, special needs, creditors, and more can result in the loss of an asset the moment it passes onto your intended recipient. However, an estate plan can ensure that the intended recipient receives your assets at the particular time that best preserves them. Not only will this protect your assets, but it allows the recipient to properly benefit from them as well.

Through careful planning, Anthony Bourdain was able to ensure that all of his $1.2 million estate went only to his 11-year-old daughter without excessive probate costs and lengthy delays. The attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates are experienced estate planners who will work to guarantee that your intended beneficiaries can receive their designated share of your estate without the frustration of probate and conflict that often accompanies an unplanned estate. The attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates are experienced attorneys who change with the times to meet the needs of their clients. Contact  Contact the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000 for assistance. The attorneys of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates practice family law throughout Southeastern Michigan including Oakland, Wayne, WashtenawGenesee and Livingston counties as well as four mid-Michigan counties ClareGladwinOgemawand Roscommon. The attorneys handle cases in Milford; Highland; Hartland; White LakeWixom; Commerce; Walled Lake; Waterford; West Bloomfield; Linden; Fenton; Flint; Grand Blanc; Holly; South Lyon; New Hudson; Howell; Clare; Gladwin; Houghton Lake; Higgins Lake; and many more Michigancommunities.

https://www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C032-S014-is-estate-planning-now-dead.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/megangorman/2018/07/06/why-anthony-bourdains-estate-plan-reflected-the-two-most-important-parts-of-his-life/

 

Serving the Millennial Client

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Serving the Millennial Client

Millennials are the largest living generation in the U.S. and currently make up 1/3rd of the workforce. As more millennials enter the workforce, their need for attorneys will increase. As their need for attorneys increases, attorneys will be faced with difficult task of adapting to a clientele who are drastically different from the previous generations. There are two primary differences an attorney will need to address in serving the millennial client: the millennial DIY mind frame and the millennial’s preference for technology.

As Casey C. Sullivan put it in “How to Win Millennial Clients,” Millennials are able to and want to pursue DIY approaches to legal issues, such as submitting their own legal forms. Millennials are therefore more likely than previous generations to use attorneys as their second option when faced with a legal dilemma. This is due in part to the economic recession beginning in 2007 which shaped the millennial approach to finances. It is also due in part to the fact that millennials are the most educated generation in history.

Ultimately, the combination of these factors encourages millennials to first attempt to solve their legal issues themselves before contacting an attorney. Millennials and Technology. The millennial’s technological ability is also a factor affecting not only how attorney’s market to potential new clients, but how attorneys communicate with their clients and receive payment. Millennials spend copious amounts of time on social media. Consequently, it has become the primary platform from which millennials receive advertising. As follows, attorneys looking to tap into the millennial market should promote themselves through social media. However, promoting oneself on social media can come with its own set of struggles. For instance, advertising on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram requires tip-toeing the fine line between accessible and professional. Nonetheless, attorneys looking to tap into the millennial market should advertise their services by creating a strong social media presence.

One of the key ways to increase social media presence is to keep a well-maintained website where clients reviews are accessible and can be shared on other platforms. Millennials place a high value on client reviews and are quick to skip over a business with a low ranking. In fact, a low ranking on an attorney’s website can be damning. It is therefore more important than ever before to make sure your clients are satisfied with your services, a difficult job in the highly contentious and often unpredictable field of law. The use of technology has also affected how millennial clients will communicate with their attorney. The instant nature of social media has produced a generation that wants quick, readily-available answers and updates. That combined with the fact that millennials prefer communicating via email or text rather than in person or on the phone creates a need to rework the in-person client appointment model. Rather than phoning the client or having the client come into the office for a meeting, attorneys may have to inform clients of the progress on their cases by providing updates through secure online websites the client can access at any time.

Attorneys may also have to make other small changes to address the millennial inclination toward technology. For instance, technology has made millennials favor online purchases or payments as opposed to mailing in checks. Thus, attorneys interested in tapping into the millennial market should offer payment options online. The attorneys at Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates are experienced attorneys who change with the times to meet the needs of their clients. Contact  Contact the Milford, Michigan law office of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates at 248-676-1000 for assistance. The attorneys of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates practice family law throughout Southeastern Michigan including Oakland, Wayne, WashtenawGenesee and Livingston counties as well as four mid-Michigan counties ClareGladwinOgemawand Roscommon. The attorneys handle cases in Milford; Highland; Hartland; White LakeWixom; Commerce; Walled Lake; Waterford; West Bloomfield; Linden; Fenton; Flint; Grand Blanc; Holly; South Lyon; New Hudson; Howell; Clare; Gladwin; Houghton Lake; Higgins Lake; and many more Michigancommunities.

 

Alimony Concerns for Stay at Home Parents

Stay-at-home parenting is becoming rarer by the day. Bureau of Labor statistics show that, “In 1967, 49 percent of mothers were stay-at-home mothers. That proportion steadily dropped through the decades until 1999, when only 23 percent of moms stayed at home,” according to the Bureau of Labor article, “Stay at Home Mothers through the years”. We expect with Millennials and beyond, that rate may drop even lower. Regardless of the statistics, there are thousands of parents opting to stay home with the kids. Consider the following scenario… A couple meets. Both are competent, educated, and employed. They fall in everlasting Continue Reading…