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Michigan Elder Law Today

Monday, March 28, 2016

What is a Life Estate?


A life estate is a special designation in probate law referring to a gift to a family member that lasts as long as the life of the recipient. If an individual uses a life estate as part of his or her estate plan, whatever is bequeathed under the life estate will revert back to the residual estate upon the death of the life estate recipient. It is most common in scenarios where an individual starts a new family without children later in life and wants to ensure that the present spouse is taken care of for the remainder of her or his life. The owner of a life estate is called a life tenant. A life estate is often used as an alternative to a trust because it provides the life tenant with more control over the transferred asset.
Read more . . .


Monday, March 21, 2016

Inheriting an IRA - 5 Key Mistakes to Avoid


How does an inherited IRA differ from other inherited wealth?

Because of its tax advantages, an inherited IRA can be a much greater windfall than funds received outside an IRA. Subject to distribution requirements, wealth in an IRA can grow tax-free. But simple mistakes can lead to costly taxes. Your first step should be to seek advice from legal and financial advisers. Here are several other pointers that may help.
Read more . . .


Monday, March 21, 2016

What is an Estate Tax?


While the terms "estate tax" and "inheritance tax" are often used interchangeably, they are not synonymous. Let's try to clarify the difference.

Estate Tax

Estate tax is based on the net value of the deceased owner's property.  An estate tax is applied to these assets when they are transferred to the beneficiary. It is important to remember that an estate tax doesn't have anything to do with the beneficiary or that person's resources.
Read more . . .


Monday, March 14, 2016

Why shouldn't I use a form from the internet for my will?


In this computer age, when so many tasks are accomplished via the internet -- including banking, shopping, and important business communications -- it may seem logical to turn to the internet when creating a legal document such as a will . Certainly, there are several websites advertising how easy and inexpensive it is to do this. Nonetheless, most of us know that, while the internet can be a wonderful tool, it also contains a tremendous amount of erroneous, misleading, and even dangerous information.

In most cases, as with so many do-it-yourself projects, creating a will most often ends up being a more efficient, less expensive process if you engage the services of a qualified attorney.  Just as most of us are not equipped to do our own plumbing repairs or automotive repairs, most of us do not have the background or experience to create our own legal documents, even with the help of written directions.
Read more . . .


Monday, February 29, 2016

What is a Pooled Income Trust and Do I Need One?


A Pooled Income Trust is a special type of trust that allows individuals of any age (typically over 65) to become financially eligible for public assistance benefits (such as Medicaid home care and Supplemental Security Income), while preserving their monthly income in trust for living expenses and supplemental needs. All income received by the beneficiary must be deposited into the Pooled Income Trust which is set up and managed by a not-for-profit organization.

In order to be eligible to deposit your income into a Pooled Income Trust, you must be disabled as defined by law. For purposes of the Trust, "disabled" typically includes age-related infirmities. The Trust may only be established by a parent, a grandparent, a legal guardian, the individual beneficiary (you), or by a court order.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Estate Planning With Your Pets In Mind


How can you incorporate your pets into your estate plan?

Your beloved Fido or Fluffy might be the light of your life. If this is the case, it probably scares you to think about what will happen to your pet or pets after you become incapacitated or die. But, you do not have to live in fear.
Read more . . .


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reasons to Alter You Estate Plan


When should you consider updating your estate plan?

If you are one of the responsible Americans who has an estate plan (over half of the population between the ages of 55 and 64 doesn't even have a will!), you should also be aware such a plan has be reviewed periodically. This is particularly true at crucial junctures in your life that may require changes in how you want your estate managed, and your assets distributed, after you die.

It is essential to have a knowledgeable estate planning attorney at your side when you originally craft your estate plan and equally important that you keep him or her apprised of any alterations in your life circumstances that may, or should, affect your original estate planning decisions.

Triggers to Reconsider the Provisions of Your Estate Plan

There are many and varied reasons your estate plan may require re-evaluation and/or change. As we all know, life is unpredictable.
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Monday, February 15, 2016

Problems with Using Joint Accounts as a Vehicle for Inheritance


When deciding who will inherit your assets after you die, it is important to consider that you might outlive the beneficiary you choose.  If you have added someone to your financial accounts to ensure that he or she receives this asset after you die, you might be concerned about what will happen should you outlive this person.

What happens to a joint asset in this situation depends upon the specific circumstances. For example, if a co-owner that was meant to inherit dies first, the account will automatically become the property of the other co-owners and will not be included in the decedent’s estate.  However, whether it is somehow included in this person’s taxable estate, and is therefore subject to state death tax, also depends on state law.
Read more . . .


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Would transferring your home to your children help avoid estate taxes?


Before transferring your home to your children, there are several issues that should be considered. Some are tax-related issues and some are none-tax issues that can have grave consequences on your livelihood. 

The first thing to keep in mind is that the current federal estate tax exemption is currently over $5 million and thus it is likely that you may not have an estate tax issue anyway. If you are married you and your spouse can double that exemption to over $10 million. So, make sure the federal estate tax is truly an issue for you before proceeding.
Read more . . .


Monday, January 25, 2016

What is a tax basis and how will it affect my estate plan?


A tax basis is essentially the purchase price of a piece of property. Whenever that property is sold, the seller must pay taxes on the difference between the sale price and the original purchase price. This concept applies to all property, including stocks, bonds, vehicles, mechanical equipment, and real estate. If debts are assumed along with the purchase price, the principal amount of the debt will be included in the basis. The basis can be adjusted downwards when a person deducts depreciation costs on his or her income tax returns, and may be increased for capital investments towards improving the property that are not deducted for income tax purposes.
Read more . . .


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 . . .


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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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