Your Estate Plan and Your Safe Deposit Box

If you have an estate plan and a safe deposit box (SDB) you may be wondering one of two things. First, can (and should) you re-title your SDB in the name of your trust? Second, is your SDB a good place to keep your estate plan documents? This post will address both questions. Read More

Medicaid Planning and Multiple Real Estate Interests: An Overview

Many Michigan families own a second property, and preserving that property for future generations is almost always an important goal. However, Medicaid qualification rules only exempt a homestead (up to a certain limit of value in some circumstances), which only protects one property. Medicaid also has a five year “look-back” rule preventing applicants from simply giving their property away or selling it for less than fair market value in order to qualify for Medicaid. For an owner of multiple properties who has learned he or she will need to apply for Medicaid, the first concern often revolves around what will happen to the second property. Read More

Should Your Vehicle Be In Your Trust?

Estate planning attorneys can never stress enough the importance of “funding” your trust – ensuring that assets that you intend to pass by the terms of your trust actually do so.  Funding is accomplished by retitling assets or changing the beneficiary on the asset to the trust. You may be surprised to learn that your vehicle does not need to be retitled to your trust in order to avoid probate court. In fact, unless you have vehicles in excess of $60,000 in value, we generally advise against doing so for the following reasons. Read More

Planning a Family Cottage Succession

Michigan residents are well known for their love of “the family cottage.” It’s really no surprise given that Michigan has the second highest number of lakes of any state in the country. Estimates show as many as one in three people owning lakefront property. For many, the cottage is the asset they are most proud to pass down to their children, and they hope it will remain in the family for generations. Read More

Disclaiming Retirement Benefits

In a previous article, we discussed what to consider when naming your retirement plan beneficiary. This article addresses an additional point to take into account if you’ve decided to list your adult children as outright beneficiaries “per stirpes” – meaning that if the adult child predeceases you, his or her children will equally share the predeceased beneficiary’s share. Read More

IRA Charitable Rollover Made Permanent

Thanks to the year-end tax and budget deal which was signed into law by Congress on December 18, 2015, the Charitable IRA Rollover has been made a permanent part of the U.S. Tax Code. The change allows you to transfer up to $100,000 per year of your pre-tax IRA to a public charity without being required to include the distribution in your taxable income. In order to exclude the income, you must forego the charitable income tax deduction. Read More

Photos of Deceased Loved Ones: Sharing May Not be Caring

Wanting to pass photos of loved ones to family members after their death is understandable. Whether in tangible or electronic form, looking back on photos is a way to remember our loved ones and the happy times we shared with them. However, our loved ones may not have envisioned their photos posted on the internet, uploaded to social media sites and shared with people they never met. Read More

Preserving Genealogy for Future Generations

Researching genealogy is a popular pastime for many. Given the subject matter, you would think that a priority for those researching the history of their families would be to preserve and pass on that information for future generations. Unfortunately, it is often not that simple. Read More