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Michigan Elder Law Today

Thursday, January 21, 2016

It All Sounds Greek to Me! A Glossary of Basic Estate Planning Terms


One of the pitfalls of being a lawyer is that sometimes you spend so much time around other lawyers that you forget how to talk like a human being. At Byers & Goulding we do our very best to cut out the jargon, but sometimes a little bit slips in. So, below is a lawyer to human translation guide you can use when talking with us, or other estate planning attorneys.

Beneficiaries - The people or organizations who benefit from a trust or from the distribution of an estate.

Bequest - A gift given to a specific person or organization in a will.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Proactive Estate Planning for Patients with Early Alzheimer's


Why is it important to plan your estate or revise your estate plan as soon as you receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease?

The early symptoms of Alzheimer's, a degenerative brain disease, are usually mild cognitive impairment, often so mild they are commonly mistaken for signs of simple aging. Although the disease is an awful one, and the prognosis is never good, this early period can give patients and their families the gift of time to make important, necessary decisions about personal care and finances. Early on, the patient may experience some confusion and memory lapses, but he or she usually still has the intellectual capacity to participate in discussions about the foreseeable future. Sad as this situation may be, it gives the patient some control over matters of his or her own life and death.

Signs of Alzheimer's Early Disease

During its earliest stages, Alzheimer's may show one or many of the following symptoms:

• Short-term memory loss
• Confusion over time and location
• Lack of initiative
• Difficulty completing routine activities
• Changes in mood or personality
• Trouble handling money

During such early stages, the patient may still be completely capable of assisting in the decision-making process.
Read more . . .


Monday, January 11, 2016

What Is the Spousal Share of an Estate?


There are many reasons why a person might leave a spouse or another loved one out of his or her will. It is possible that the will in question was executed prior to a marriage and was never properly updated. It may also be the case that the husband and wife, though still technically married, are estranged, and do not contribute to one another’s support. An end of life revelation of a past infidelity may anger a spouse enough to rewrite his or her last will and testament. Individuals may make rash decisions to disinherit spouses based on a single argument or misunderstanding.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Estate Planning for the Chronically Ill


There are certain considerations that should be kept in mind for those with chronic illnesses.   Before addressing this issue, there should be some clarification as to the definition of "chronically ill." There are at least two definitions of chronically ill. The first is likely the most common meaning, which is an illness that a person may live with for many years. Diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C and asthma are some of the more familiar chronic illnesses.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Congress Considering Look-Back Period for Divestment of Assets by Veterans


Are there any pivotal legal changes coming down the pike affecting veterans’ benefits?

Much like the Medicaid program, there are a certain number of veterans’ benefits that are available to those who meet certain financial eligibility criteria. However, the rules surrounding needs-based veterans’ benefits are somewhat variable from the rules surrounding eligibility for Medicaid coverage – primarily within the context of divestment of assets, or “spending down” assets to qualify.  

Medicaid has a 60 month look-back period.  When an application for Medicaid is filed, gifts, transfers, and sales of property for less than fair market value that occurred within 60 months of applying for Medicaid must be reported.  If such transactions have occurred, a divestment penalty may be applied, meaning that even though an elder qualifies for Medicaid now, Medicaid will not pay for their care due to the divestments that occurred up to 5 years ago.
Read more . . .


Monday, December 14, 2015

What would happen if another child is born after establishing an estate plan?


This question presents a fairly common issue posed to estate planning attorneys. The solution is also pretty easy to address in your will, trust and other estate planning documents, including any guardianship appointment for your minor children.

First, its important to note that you should not delay establishing an estate plan pending the birth of a new child.  In fact, if your planning is done right you most likely will not need to modify your estate plan after a new child is born.  The problem with waiting is that you cannot know what tomorrow will bring and you could die, or become incapacitated and not having any type of plan is a bad idea.
Read more . . .


Monday, November 30, 2015

Controlling Estate Planning Through Trusts


How can I control my assets after death?

The practice of estate planning is dedicated to preserving an individual’s control over his or her assets after death. A simple will can control which individuals receive what assets, but a more thorough plan has the potential to do much more. Establishing a trust is the most common method used to exercise this kind of control. 

A trust can issue a bequest restricted by a condition; for example, a trust might be established to pay out $10,000.00 to a specific grandchild only once he or she has reached 18 years of age.
Read more . . .


Friday, November 20, 2015

The Role of Mediators in Elder Care


Can a mediator assist in resolving elder care issues?

Issues related to caring for elder parents is becoming increasingly important as the population ages. In fact, according to U.S. Census figures, in 2013 there were about 45 million adults 65 or older; and by 2030, about I in 5 Americans (72 million people) will be members of that age group.

In light of this trend, trained mediators are playing a greater role is helping families resolve disputes over the care and finances of aging parents.


Read more . . .


Monday, November 2, 2015

Mediation: Is It Right For You?


Mediation is one form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that allows parties to seek a remedy for their conflict without a court trial. Parties work with a mediator, who is a neutral third party. Usually, mediators have received some training in negotiation or their professional background provides that practical experience.

Unlike a judge, a mediator does not decide who wins; rather, a mediator facilitates communication between the parties and helps identify issues and solutions. The goal is for parties to reach an acceptable agreement.
Read more . . .


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Federal Court Considers Annuities in Context of Medicaid Eligibility


I purchased an annuity several years ago. Does this asset impact future Medicaid eligibility?

When it comes to planning for long-term care, many Americans are beginning to consider the option of applying for Medicaid benefits – which, unlike Medicare, provide coverage for the staggering costs of full-time skilled nursing care. Also unlike Medicare, in order to qualify for Medicaid, certain asset and income criteria must be met.
Read more . . .


Friday, October 23, 2015

Estate Taxes, Gift Taxes, and Medicaid


The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the estate tax exclusion amount will increase to $5,450,000.00 for the estates of people dying in 2016.  The exclusion amount is the amount a deceased person can own without there being a federal estate tax that must be paid out of their estate before it is distributed to the deceased person’s heirs or beneficiaries.  Some states have a state estate tax, but the State of Michigan does not have a state estate tax.

The annual gift tax exclusion will remain at $14,000.
Read more . . .


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Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Probate attorney Andrew Byers helps people in Troy, MI and throughout Oakland County, MI including Royal Oak, Clawson, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Rochester Hills, as well as throughout the metro Detroit area, including Macomb County and Wayne County, Michigan.



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