September 30, 2009
Filed under: Estate Administration,Estate Planning,Probate — Christopher J. Berry @ 8:33 pm
Unwed couples is a growing percentage for a variety of reasons, whether financial, political, religious, etc. There are plenty of reasons why a couple would not want to enter into a federally recognized marriage. Two common financial reasons include collecting on deceased spouses’ Social Security earnings or planning for Medicaid.
Whatever reason couples may have for avoiding vows, the situation can raise tricky consequences when it comes to their estate planning, whether the couple is a same-sex couple or opposite sex couple, if the couple does no planning.
The main Michigan estate planning issue for an unwed couple is the lack of ability to be able to make any financial or medical decisions for their partner. If one partner is suffers an accident their is not presumption for the other partner to be able to act on behalf of the incapacitated partner. Therefore, Michigan financial powers of attorney and Michigan medical powers of attorney (patient advocate designations) are vital.
The big issue that everyone thinks about is what happens if my partner passes away? Well without a marriage and without joint ownership, the assets will pass through the Michigan probate courts and follow the Michigan laws of intestacy, leaving all of the partners assets with their family instead of the surviving partner. Properly drafted estate plans including a Michigan Last Will and Testament and a Michigan Living Trust should be considered and should be drafted by a Michigan estate planning attorney.
Planning for an unwed couple can be tricky and should be handled by an experience and knowledgeable Michigan estate planning attorney.
-Christopher J. Berry, Esq., A Novi Wills and Living Trust Attorney, is a Partner with The Law Offices of Witzke Berry PLLC, which practices in the areas of Novi Estate Planning, Novi Medicaid Planning, and Novi Probate Litigation, serving Metro-Detroit and Oakland County, Macomb County, and Wayne County. We can be reached at 248-971-1700.
As a Michigan estate planning attorney, I won’t have to deal with this much, but New York has just passed a new law that made their rules regarding powers of attorney much more complicated.
Trust and Estates has an interesting write up on the statute that effects the power of attorney. You can read it here :New York’s New POA Law. Florida Estate Planning attorney, David M. Goldman, wrote an interesting post on the New York Power of Attorney law while it was still in bill form back in February. You can read it here : Gifting Changes Required for POA’s in NY. Also, take a look at what New Your Estate Planning lawyer, Ellen Victor has to say about the New York Power of Attorney here: New York’s New Power of Attorney.
Part of the craziness is that a valid power of attorney must contain more than 600 words of language from the statute that are intended to better inform the principal about the serious nature of the power of attorney document.
What this means to me as a Michigan estate planning attorney? Well, it shows just how each state has different statute, laws, court rules, and common law that effects your estate planning documents. If you are one of those “do-it-yourselfers” who are using Suze Orman Trust Kits, Legalzoom online wills, Quicken Willmaker Software, I’d be a little worried. Do you think these national packages contain the state specific details to make your important estate planning document valid in your state?
-Christopher J. Berry, Esq., A Michigan Wills and Living Trust Attorney, is a Partner with The Law Offices of Witzke Berry PLLC, which practices in the areas of Michigan Estate Planning, Michigan Elder Law, and Michigan Probate Litigation, serving Metro-Detroit and Oakland County, Macomb County, and Wayne County. We can be reached at 248-971-1700.
September 29, 2009
With the baby boomers aging, the largest amount of wealth in history is passing from one generation to the next. Unfortunately, people are procrastinating on their estate planning until it’s too late.
Over at the greenbaypressgazette.com, they have an interesting article that discusses how to prioritize the details in estate planning which you can read here: “Guest column: Tim Cisler Prioritize details in estate planning.”
From the point of view of a Michigan estate planning attorney, there are a couple key points that I would like to reinforce from the article.
First, don’t underestimate the value of your assets. Sure the economy is down, that said, your estate could include your residence, your retirement accounts, your savings, and possibly your life insurance. Add all those pieces up and you may be surprised at the value. Regardless of the size, you most likely would want to protect those assets from needless expenses, for example the expense of opening a Michigan probate.
The next key point is to keep your beneficiaries designations updated on your assets, including life insurance, retirement accounts, deeds to property. Just because it made sense at one point to name a family member the beneficiary of the IRA, doesn’t mean now or in the future it would make more sense to name the living trust the beneficiary.
Lastly, know the difference between a probate estate and a trust. People think that just because they have a Michigan Will, they will avoid the Michigan probate system. Not true, a Michigan Last Will and Testament is your ticket to the Michigan probate system. If you want to avoid a Michigan Probate, then a living trust would be a better option.
Christopher J. Berry, Esq., A Bloomfield Hills Wills and Living Trust Attorney, is a Partner with The Law Offices of Witzke Berry PLLC, which practices in the areas of Bloomfield Hills Estate Planning, Bloomfield Hills Medicaid Planning, and Bloomfield Hills Probate Litigation, serving Metro-Detroit and Oakland County, Macomb County, and Wayne County. We can be reached at 248-971-1700.
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