Estate Planning/Probate/Dec 1, 2014

When Can a Handwritten Note Amend a Trust?

To determine whether an undated, handwritten note can alter a trust agreement, two sources provide the answer: (1) the express terms of the trust document and (2) Michigan statute. While a trust document should provide the explicit manner in which the settlor may amend the trust, Michigan’s Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC), MCL 700.7602(3)(a), ... Read More
Estate Planning/Probate/Oct 21, 2014

National Estate Planning Awareness Week

An estimated 55% of Americans die without a will or an estate plan, according to information published by the American Bar Association (ABA). Worse yet, those who have been lured by the low-cost and seemingly simple do-it-yourself estate planning packages, may find that a do-it-yourself plan can have worse consequences than no plan at all. ... Read More
Estate Planning/Probate/Oct 15, 2014

Governor Approves Bill To Prevent Further Uncapping Of Property Taxes

Governor Snyder has approved a bill that will increase the allowable exceptions to uncapping the taxable value for property transfers under MCL 211.27a. Public Act 310 of 2014, which goes into effect December 31, 2014, will allow certain transfers of real property to and from a trust without uncapping the taxable value. This latest amendment ... Read More
Estate Planning/Probate/Jun 19, 2014

Life Estate Holder May Claim Personal Residence Exemption

A recent Michigan Court of Appeals opinion held that a life estate holder was a home “owner” and, therefore, entitled to a Principal Residence Exemption (PRE) under Michigan’s General Property Tax Act. Flowers v Township of Bedford, ___ NW2d ____ (2014). The PRE, often referred to as a “homestead” exemption, allows Michigan residents who own ... Read More
Estate Planning/Probate/Feb 7, 2014

5 Things To Know About Gun Trusts

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) estimates that there are more than 234 million firearms in the United States. Others have estimated the number to be closer to 300 million. Whatever the actual number, it is undisputed that many Americans own guns and feel very strongly about their gun-owning rights. But what ... Read More
Estate Planning/Probate/Jan 13, 2014

New Year, New Resolution: Update or Create Your Estate Plan

If you have resolved to get fit, get organized, or get out of debt in 2014, you are not alone. According to research published on statisticbrain.com, 45% of all Americans usually make a new year’s resolution. And, as you might have guessed, fitness and financial goals top the list of annual resolutions. Absent from the ... Read More
Estate Planning/Probate/Jul 10, 2013

Are In Terrorem Clauses Ineffective?

In terrorem clauses are clauses drafted into wills and trusts to prevent squabbling over a decedent’s assets by providing that any interested person who unsuccessfully contests the will or trust will receive nothing. Although Michigan law holds that in terrorem clauses are enforceable, many drafters argue they are virtually ineffective. A recently published Michigan Court ... Read More
Estate Planning/Probate/May 17, 2013

Proposed Legislation Would Allow Personal Representatives Access to Online Accounts

Michigan’s statute that regulates a personal representative’s rights and responsibilities with regard to the deceased’s personal property and estate may soon be going high tech. Senate Bill No. 293, proposed earlier this year, seeks to amend Michigan’s Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC) by allowing personal representatives access to a deceased’s online accounts. Specifically, the ... Read More
Estate Planning/Probate/Oct 22, 2012

New Durable Power of Attorney Requirements in Effect 10/1/2012

In May 2012, the governor signed into law an updated statute addressing durable power of attorney – MCL 700.5501. This created several new requirements for a general durable power of attorney (DPOA) in Michigan. A significant new requirement that must be included in all DPOAs compels all those who act as agents under a DPOA ... Read More