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Michigan Elder Law Today

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Married Couples Should Consider Separate Trusts


What are the benefits of separate trusts?

Estates worth less than a certain amount of money are not subject to Federal estate taxes.  This is called the estate tax exemption and while this amount has changed numerous times over the past few years. it currently stands at $5.43 million.  Therefore, all estates with a total less than $5.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Recent Holding by Michigan Court of Appeals Upholds Medicaid Eligibility Penalty for Home Health Aides


How do payments to home health aides impact Medicaid eligibility in Michigan? 


In Michigan, as is the case elsewhere, eligibility for Medicaid enrollment is entirely needs-based, meaning an applicant must be financially unable to pay the costs and fees associated with his or her medical care. Currently, Medicaid is the only government-funded healthcare program that covers the costs of long-term care, as Medicare only covers a nursing facility stay up to 120 days. 

In order to qualify for Medicaid, an applicant must show a lack of personal assets and a total inability to pay for medical bills individually. Accordingly, state and federal authorities will closely scrutinize an applicant’s financial situation, primarily focusing on any transfers or divestments made over the past five years. If an asset transfer or divestment has occurred, and the applicant could have used those funds toward his or her stay in the long-term care facility, a penalty will apply congruent with the amount of time those funds could have covered daily nursing home costs.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Using the Michigan ‘Lady Bird’ Deed as a Medicaid Planning Tool


What is a ‘lady bird’ deed? And how can it help me with Medicaid eligibility? 


Under Michigan law, a ‘lady bird’ deed is an elegant-sounding designation for a relatively common type of real property interest formalized in a document.  This interest is that of an enhanced life estate interest. 

A life estate is a type of real property interest that may be granted to a person for the duration of a person’s life. For example, a parent might transfer a piece of lakefront property to his or her son that includes a life estate, allowing the parent to use the property exclusively until his or her natural death, at which point, the ownership would transfer directly to the son. However, a traditional life estate is incredibly limiting for the grantor, and essentially prohibits him from encumbering the property with a mortgage or allowing it to fall into disrepair without the threat of liability.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Power of Attorney: How Important is This Estate Planning Component?


I am preparing to execute my first estate plan, and I always thought I just need a Last Will and Testament. Is a power of attorney necessary? 


A power of attorney is an estate planning tool that most experienced Michigan estate planning attorneys will include in a comprehensive portfolio. While it is true that a Last Will and Testament or revocable living trust are the cornerstones of a properly-drafted plan, there are a number of corollary documents that are equally as necessary to ensure the entire estate plan works interactively to achieve your goals, including a power of attorney. What’s more, is that this fundamental document can help avoid the costly experience of petitioning for conservatorship over a loved one who is no longer capable of executing legal or financial documents – which is explained more thoroughly below. 

What is a power of attorney?

In Michigan, a power of attorney is a formally-executed document that creates an agency relationship between the principal (yourself) and the individual(s) you choose as agents to act on your behalf.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Forty Years After Death, Philanthropist Gives $13 Million


Can an estate plan provide for one's family and friends and still benefit charity in the future?


The passage of time proved no obstacle to a late philanthropist who was determined to give to charity.  Leave A Legacy, in Southeast Michigan, announced that it had received $13 million from Dick E. Morand, who died in Detroit, Michigan in 1977.  The funds will benefit five non-profit organizations.

Morand's wife had passed away in 1976 and the two were childless.
Read more . . .


Friday, May 15, 2015

Incapacity, Illness and Estate Planning


How can an advanced health care directive benefit you and your family?

It is perhaps impossible for a healthy adult to fully imagine losing a significant portion of his or her cognitive ability through disease, a serious accident or age. Yet more than five million Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and millions more have experienced memory and decision-making challenges through other afflictions and events. Because of the ever-present possibility of sudden or eventual incapacity, it is imperative that you protect your family and your assets through estate planning. 

A key component of estate planning is the creation of an advance health care directive, also referred to as a living will, a personal directive, an advance directive, an advance decision or a durable power of attorney for health care (though, in Michigan, some of these terms actually refer to other estate planning tools which are not legally identical to an advance health care directive). An advance health care directive and accompanying legal tools can be used to:
• Specify who will make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so
• State which technology should be used and under which circumstances to prolong life
• Specify whether you would like to be an organ donor/make a “declaration of an anatomical gift”
• State your wishes under Michigan’s Do Not Resuscitate Procedure Act
• Communicate whether your advocate has the legal power to halt food and/or water administered through a feeding tube
• State whether you’d like to be admitted to a nursing home
• Specify where you’d like to die (home, hospital, nursing home or elsewhere)
• Spare your family from making agonizing decisions

Advance health care directives are relatively simple to create in Michigan with the assistance of a qualified estate planning or Read more . . .


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dangers of Joint Tenancy in Estate Planning


I am a widow. Should I add my daughter to my bank accounts?

Joint ownership of real estate or accounts – which is known as “joint tenancy” – may seem convenient at the outset, particularly if it is becoming difficult to pay bills and manage household finances properly. However, a joint tenancy can quickly undo an estate plan, allowing for an unintentional windfall to one beneficiary while the others are left with little. Consider the following example of joint tenancy gone awry, which is an all-too-common scenario, particularly for those with well-meaning children looking to help ease the burden for aging parents: 

Jane was married for 52 years, and is facing some difficulty in managing her household finances following the death of her husband. Thinking it would be more convenient for everyone, Jane added her daughter Sheila to several of her accounts at the local bank – including her checking and savings accounts.
Read more . . .


Monday, April 27, 2015

Important Steps to Plan for the Future of a Special Needs Child


Important Steps to Plan for the Future of a Special Needs Child

#1 Establish a Comprehensive Plan
Most estate planning attorneys will say that no person should use a “do-it-yourself” will kit to establish their estate plan.  If you have a child with special needs, it is extremely important to seek competent legal counsel from an estate planning lawyer with special needs planning experience before and during the process of writing your will.

In your estate plan, make sure that any bequests to your child are left to his or her trust (see #2, below) instead of to the child directly.  Your will should also name the person or persons you want to serve as guardian of your child (see #3, below).

Once your estate plan is complete you should give copies to all the guardians and executors named in the will.
Read more . . .


Monday, April 20, 2015

Young and Ill, without Advance Directives


Young and Ill, without Advance Directives

When you are a child, your parents serve as your decision makers. They have ultimate say in where you go to school, what extracurricular activities you partake in and where, and how, you should be treated in the event of a medical emergency. While most parents continue to play a huge role in their children’s lives long after they reach adulthood, they lose legal decision-making authority on that 18th birthday. Most young adults don't contemplate who can act on their behalf once this transfer of power occurs, and consequently they fail to prepare advance directives.

In the event of a medical emergency, if a young adult is conscious and competent to make decisions, the doctors will ask the patient about his or her preferred course of treatment.
Read more . . .


Monday, April 13, 2015

Choosing a Guardian for Minor Children


If you are a parent and you are considering estate planning, one of the most difficult decisions you will have to make is choosing a guardian for your minor children.  It is not easy to think of anyone else, no matter how loving, raising your child. Yet, you can make a tremendous difference in your child’s life by planning ahead. 

The younger your child, the more crucial this choice is, because very young children cannot form or express their own preferences about caregivers. Yet young children are not the only ones who benefit from careful parental attention to guardianship.
Read more . . .


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Probate vs. Non-Probate Property


Planning Pitfall: Probate vs. Non-Probate Property

Transfer of property at death can be rather complex.  Many are under the impression that instructions provided in a valid will are sufficient to transfer their assets to the individuals named in the will.   However, there are a myriad of rules that affect how different types of assets transfer to heirs and beneficiaries, often in direct contradiction of what may be clearly stated in one’s will.

The legal process of administering property owned by someone who has passed away with a will is called probate.
Read more . . .


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