Estate Planning | Elder Law

What to Do When an Aging Parent Needs Help with Decisions — But Doesn’t Realize It

As your parents grow older, your foremost concern is making sure that they are comfortable and safe. As long as they can care for themselves and make necessary decisions about their daily and longer term needs, those concerns are eased. But what should you do when an aging patent starts to show signs that they may not be completely capable of taking care of themselves? Memory Loss in Elders — When Does It Become Cognitive Impairment? Almost … [Read more...]

ABLE Accounts in Michigan — Savings Plans for Individuals with Disabilities and their Families

ABLE stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience. The federal ABLE Act, signed into law in 2014, allows states to set up ABLE programs. The program was established to assist individuals with disabilities and their families in saving funds to maintain health, independence, and quality of life — without jeopardizing their access to federal and state funds. Michigan adopted its own ABLE law (MiABLE) in 2015. At the end of 2016, the Michigan … [Read more...]

Can an Ex-Spouse Still Inherit under a Will?

If you have recently divorced, or if you have a parent who has recently gone through a divorce, you and your family have gone through a difficult and emotional time. Most likely, you do not want to think about whether there are implications of the divorce that you have not fully considered. Even so, you should take the time to make certain that all your family's assets are secure from claims of the ex-spouse, including assets covered by a will, … [Read more...]

Domestic Asset Protection Trusts Are Now Legal in Michigan

Effective March 8, 2017, Domestic Asset Protection Trusts (DAPTs) are legal in Michigan. This complete reversal of previous law is the result of two laws enacted by the Michigan legislature at the end of 2016. The change is an important new development in Michigan trust law. What Is a Domestic Asset Protection Trust (DAPT)? A domestic asset protection trust or DAPT is an irrevocable trust that allows the person creating the trust to benefit … [Read more...]

How to Talk with an Aging Parent about Memory Loss

Taking care of senior family members is a responsibility that you take on out of love and devotion. Sometimes, though, it is difficult to know when or how to raise important issues. One of the most challenging situations occurs when you begin noticing signs of memory loss. Knowing what to look for and how to talk with your loved one can help you navigate through this crucial time. What Are Common Signs of Memory Loss? It is not uncommon for … [Read more...]

Will You Owe 2016 Gift Taxes?

Michigan, like most states, does not have a state gift tax. However, the federal gift tax law in the Internal Revenue Code applies to everyone in all states, including Michigan. In any year, if you make gifts to relatives and friends, you may have to file a gift tax return and pay tax on the gifts. Many people wonder how to determine if they will owe 2016 gift taxes. What is a “Gift” for Tax Purposes? Are All Gifts Taxable? A gift is any … [Read more...]

Warning Signs of Financial Exploitation of Elders

Financial exploitation of seniors is one of the most common forms of elder abuse. The National Council on Aging considers financial fraud that target elders to be “the crime of the 21st century.” There are famous cases such as those involving heiress Brooke Astor and actor Mickey Rooney, both of whom were financially exploited by family members. But all seniors are vulnerable to being victims of financial exploitation, even those with low … [Read more...]

What Is Medicaid and How Can It Help You?

Everyone should be familiar with Medicaid, but many people are not, or they misunderstand it. While it does cover medical costs for people with very low income, Medicaid also is a common way for seniors with limited resources to cover long-term health care costs that Medicare does not cover, such as nursing home expenses. If you receive or may require long-term care or have a family member who does, you should understand the basics of Medicaid. … [Read more...]

Are Living Wills Valid in Michigan?

Although the question about living wills in Michigan seems simple, the answer is complicated. Michigan is one of only a few states that does not have a law on the validity of living wills. Although there is no state statute giving legal force to the documents, there is a court decision that seems to make living wills binding in the state. In 1995, the Michigan Supreme Court wrote that “a written directive would provide the most concrete evidence … [Read more...]

What is a “No Contest” Clause in a Will?

When a famous person dies, there are often reports about nasty family battles over the person’s estate. Recent examples include the estates of Prince, Tom Clancy, Robin Williams, and Muhammad Ali. (You can read more about these celebrity estates and others on The Probate Lawyer Blog.) Unfortunately, challenges to the provisions of a will aren’t limited to estates of famous or well-known people. Even in otherwise close families, problems can … [Read more...]