Many people believe that estate planning is only for the ultra-wealthy, a belief that has been exacerbated over the past several years with a markedly increased unified estate and gift tax credit ($5.45 million per individual in 2016). While it’s true that estate and gift tax planning was a common reason for estate planning within recent years, the belief that it is the only or most important reason is a common misconception. Read More
Documents and Forms
As of June 27, 2016, Michigan law allows you to formally identify a Funeral Representative who has the authority to make your final arrangements regarding your funeral, memorial service, cremation and/or burial. The Funeral Representative also has the right to possess – or make decisions about who may possess – your cremated remains. You can designate your Funeral Representative in your will, in your power of attorney, or in a separate writing that is notarized and/or witnessed by two persons. Read More
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
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
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
Did you know that May is National Pet Month?
Mammel Law Attorney Rebecca Wrock has been published three times this year on animal law matters, most recently on the topic of including pets in your estate plan. She has lectured on the topic for law students in the US and Canada. Read her article in the newsletter for the State Bar of Michigan Animal Law Section here.
Is your pet accounted for in your estate plan?
Asset protection is an important consideration in estate planning. Often, we don’t realize that asset protection is needed until it is too late and assets are already at risk. Fortunately, by planning in advance, you can protect your assets from the creditors of your beneficiaries. Creditors can include those to whom loan obligations are owed, such as credit cards, or those less often thought of as creditors, such as lawsuit plaintiffs and ex-spouses. Read More
There is an age-old debate about whether a trust encourages a beneficiary to be a responsible and contributing member of society, or whether that same beneficiary has no incentive to work hard when he or she could just as easily live a care-free life paid for by the generosity of an ancestor. The logical follow-up to that debate would be to ask whether leaving such a sum to a beneficiary is really doing them a favor. Depending upon your view of the first question, your answer to the second question will likely differ – but it doesn’t have to. Read More
There are many options available to reduce or eliminate a taxable estate upon your death. Many involve complex planning with various types and combinations of trusts, including credit shelter trusts, grantor trusts, and charitable trusts. Often overlooked, however, is the opportunity to reduce your taxable estate by financing the education of your intended beneficiaries. Read More
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