Estate Recovery in Michigan is Here | July 1, 2011

July 1, 2011

Filed under: Estate Recovery — Christopher J. Berry @ 5:12 pm

Well, it’s been a long road to the enactment of estate recovery in Michigan.  Estate recovery is the process whereby the state of Michigan will place liens on the probate assets for anyone who passes away and also received Medicaid payments for long-term care.  Basically, the state of Michigan will look to get reimbursed by placing a lien on the house if it goes through probate.

Estate Recovery in Michigan was signed into law in 2007, however it has not been administered, until today, July 1, 2011.

To find out more about estate recovery in Michigan, download our free report at

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Veterans Benefits, Michigan Medicaid and Long-term Care

July 31, 2011

Filed under: Elder Law,Long Term Care,Medicaid Planning,Michigan Veterans Benefits,Veterans Benefits — Christopher J. Berry @ 11:14 pm

Our Bloomfield Hills Elder Law attorney office often gets contact by individuals looking for assistance with their Veterans Benefits questions.  Often we’ll get calls asking whether “my father qualifies for the aid & attendance benefit?” and what we can do to help.  What many people are missing is that there is a whole continuum of care with aging.

The VA benefit is a great benefit when the veteran is needing home care or assisted living, but once a veteran is in need of skilled nursing care, quite often we are looking at another governmental program to help defray the devastating costs of long-term care.  That benefit is the Michigan Medicaid program.

Now the thing to keep in mind about the VA benefit and the Michigan Medicaid program is that the two programs have different rules for qualification.  For example, the Michigan Medicaid program has a 60 month look back period.  The differences in the two programs is why when individuals focus entirely on the VA benefit program and ignore the Medicaid program, as elder law attorneys serving Oakland County, Michigan, we educate our clients on both programs and how they work together.

Millionaire’s Michigan Heirs get Their Inheritance after 92 Years

July 8, 2011

Filed under: Estate Planning — Christopher J. Berry @ 2:33 pm

Ninety two years after the death of Willington R. Burt, a Saginaw lumber barron, his heirs will receive his $100 million estate.  Mr. Burt had set up his estate plan so that his fortune would be withheld from his descendants until 21 years after the death of the last grandchild born in his lifetime.

The Saginaw news reports that Mr. Burt was one of the wealthiest men in America when he passed away on March 2nd, 1919.

You can read more here: Millionaire’s Heirs Get Inheritance after 92 Years.

Many of our estate planning clients set up their estates so that there are not outright distributions to children and family, but generally not to this level of delay.

Five Ways To Screw Up Your Revocable Living Trust

July 6, 2011

Filed under: Estate Planning — Christopher J. Berry @ 1:57 am

There was a great post in Barron’s about five ways to bungle your revocable living trust.  As a Michigan estate planning lawyer who regularly reviews living trusts prepared by other attorney’s, I see all kinds of issues, including those listed in the Barron’s article.

One of the first issues of many revocable living trusts we review as Michigan living trust lawyers would be that many revocable living trusts or trustees for the revocable living trusts keep faulty records.  Most states require trustees to provide regular accountings to the beneficiaries and keeping comprehensive records is key.  The price of not keeping accurate records could be a big lawsuit at the end of the day.

A second big ossue is a failure to diversify.  Trustees may be tempted to sink a large chunck of assets into one asset.   A good rule of thumb is that more than 10% of any portfolio in one asset is too much.

Another big issues is biased distributions.  Trustees owe a fiduciary duty to the current beneficiaries and the remainder beneficiaries.  All the beneficiaries must receive the distributions per the terms of the trust.

Another big issue is many trustees expecting a pay day at the end of the day.  Many trustees think that because of the extrea work involved they are entitled to additional benefits outside of what the trust states.

The last major issue we see as Michigan estate planning attorneys is the false sense of safety many trustees feel because they may feel honored when taking on the role of trustee and not understanding the responsibilities.  There is alot of liability in serving as a trustee and that much be understood.


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