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
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
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
If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA), you might think of that account the way you think of any bank account: accessible by you during your life, tax-free, for qualified medical expenses. While that is, largely, correct, it is important to know that HSAs are treated differently from regular bank accounts upon your death. Read More
Death and taxes – they are the two certainties in life. But how often do we actually talk about them with those we love? There are many reasons why telling your children about your plans in advance makes sense. Here are a few things to keep in mind: Read More