A man caused quite a commotion in New York this last weekend when he spread his friends cremated ashes at the Met Opera House in the orchestra pit during an intermission. Instead of the touching tribute he intended for opera loving mentor, his actions instead caused the performance to be stopped while the New York Police Department's Counterterrorism Unit was deployed to investigate his actions. He is now facing serious legal problems.
Many people are shocked to find out that they alone are unable to determine what will happen with their remains upon their death. You can tell you family your want to be cremated or buried, preplan the funeral, and even pay for it - but Michigan was one of a handful of states that left actual legal decision making to your next of kin after you die. But a new law enacted this year hopes to change this.
Say you are enjoying a backyard BBQ with your family one warm summer day. The grill is going, the kids are in the pool, and you are entertaining guests. Just then there is a buzzing sound from above. A drone is flying just 30 feet above you, and the camera appears to be taping and possibly broadcasting your private event back to the computer or cell phone of an uninvited guest. The drone buzzes back and forth. You wave your arms to express your desire that the drone leave the airspace above your family, to no avail. Finally, you decide to take out the 12 gauge, load some buckshot, and take aim at the annoying aircraft.
Saying that there has been "undue influence" is often used as a reason to contest a will or estate plan, but what does it mean?
Undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure on an individual, causing that individual to act contrary to his or her wishes and to the benefit of the influencer or the influencer's friends. The pressure can take the form of deception, harassment, threats, or isolation. Often the influencer separates the individual from their loved ones in order to coerce. The elderly are usually more susceptible to undue influence.
Are your Medicare plans still working for you? Medicare's open enrollment period, in which you can enroll in or switch plans, runs from October 15 to December 7. Now is the time to review your options to determine if switching plans could save you money.
Few elections have peaked as much interest as this one. Today, October 11, 2016, is the deadline for registering to vote here in Michigan. Although voting is the hallmark of a democracy, it isn't easy if you are in a long-term care facility. Nursing home and other long-term care facility residents face several challenges to voting, from registering to vote to actually casting a ballot.
When you move into a nursing home or assisted living facility, your address changes, which means you probably need to register to vote based on the new address.
A common question I get asked is what is a “Lady Bird” Deed and do I need one?
First, a quick background.
Quit Claim Deeds
Most folks are familiar with what a Quit Claim Deed is. It is a deed that is used to add or remove someone from record ownership of real estate. A typical use would be parents deeding an interest in their property to an adult son. The problem with a Quit Claim Deed is that it is irrevocable once it is recorded, and can create some awful legal messes. If the child should end up in a financial problem, go through a divorce, get sued or die before the parents - not only will the Quit Claim Deed have failed it’s intended purpose, the parents may be paying thousands of dollars, or more, to fix an unnecessary problem. Couple this with a larger or blended family, and the use of a Quit Claim Deed to avoid probate can have disastrous results.
Trusts can be used for all kinds of purposes. One successful businessman, so grief-stricken over the loss of his wife and 2 daughters, used his trust to ensure that in his 21 room mansion, located across from the cemetery his family was buried, the clocks would be wound, a fire would be lit in the fireplace, there would be lights in the windows at night and a hot meal ready on the table each night for the reincarnated return of he and his loved ones. His trust did this from his death in 1881 until 1950, almost 60 years later, when the trust money finally ran out.
John Porter Bowman was born in 1816 in the town of Clarendon, Rutland County, Vermont. By the age of 20, John had moved away from home and become proficient as an apprentice in the Tannery industry in outstate New York.
A living trust is an excellent estate planning tool for many of our clients, but it is not a one-size-fits-all document.
A living trust can serve as a will substitute and, unlike a will, is not subject to probate, which makes it more private and less likely to be contested.
But it is not right for everyone – especially seniors on fixed incomes with limited assets.
Salesmen are selling Living Trust Kits as the fix-all financial solution to seniors who, frankly, cannot afford them. They are soliciting seniors through public seminars, phone, mail and door-to-door campaigns. The real goal of the scam is to gain access to the seniors’ financial information through the Trust Kit so they can be railroaded into buying additional annuities or unneeded insurance products.
Serving as an estate executor isn’t for the faint of heart.
It can seem like an honor, at first. When people make out their wills, they typically name a trusted person as their executor, who then has a legal responsibility to distribute their property according to the wishes of the deceased, and make sure all debts and creditors are paid.
But in addition to lots of paperwork and deadlines, the job often comes with a minefield of family issues. And worst of all, executors can be sued.
You're at the annual family reunion and you notice that less than half the people there are related to each other—some are your husband's children from a previous marriage, or they're your children from a previous marriage. As for the parents at the reunion, they've remarried too. Your father passed away several years ago, and your mother recently remarried. As a result, your four new stepsiblings are in attendance as well.
If this sounds like your family, welcome to the new form of family life. Blended families now outnumber traditional families, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Rising divorce rates aren't the only reason—our longer life spans mean that many more people are outliving their spouse and remarrying.
Would you know your all of your loved one's log-ins and passwords for everything they did online? A recent incident between a widow and Apple Computers once again highlighted the need for prior planning to protect your digital interests and to minimize problems for your family.
Apple's strict data protection policies sparked debate over so-called "digital legacy" issues this week, as the company refused to supply a recently widowed Canadian woman with her late husband's Apple ID password.
In my 25 years of law practice, I have been called 3 times to assist a client who has won more than a million dollars in the lottery. What I have found is that decisions made in the first couple of days after winning will determine just how lucky that winning ticket really was. Even more frequently, we handle estate settlements where beneficiaries are, for the first time in their lives, put in the position of managing a large sum of money. The same principles apply.
A panel of experts created this list of 20 steps to take should your number get called.
Step 1: Try to keep quiet. Don't tell anyone you have won until you actually have the money. However large the sum, your life is going to change pretty drastically, and it takes a while for your newly minted circumstances to sink in. So relax, take a deep breath, and don't blabber. You want to keep your privacy for as long as possible.
Too many retirees are outliving their retirement accounts. Consequently, the insurance industry has created a possible solution. This product is called market called “longevity insurance” or, more accurately, a longevity annuity. You see, this is really just a new name for an old concept, the deferred annuity.
Unlike most annuities, which are purchased with a lump sum and begin paying out soon afterward, these policies typically don’t begin paying anything until some 10 or 20 years after you buy them. Sales of these annuities were up 35% last year from a year earlier.
If you’re in the hospital, you probably want certain family members and trusted friends to be able to get information about your condition or prognosis. But to make sure this happens, you may need to plan ahead.
A federal law called HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is designed to protect your health care privacy, and says that medical personnel can’t disclose your health care information to unauthorized people. Only a small number of people are authorized under HIPAA … so if you want other people to know about your condition, you have to authorize them in advance.
- Most people who reach 65 are eligible for Medicare Part A at no cost
- You must sign up right when eligible, or face a penalty
- Your insurance company will not warn you, and will keep charging premiums
If you or someone you know has a marketplace health care plan under the Affordable Care Act (an “Obamacare” plan), and you’ve reached the age of 65 or are close to it, it’s important to look carefully at your options. Not making the right decision could be costly.
In the vast majority of cases, the smart approach is to terminate the Obamacare plan and sign up for Medicare.
But many people are unaware of this fact, because there’s no warning given to such consumers that they have an important decision to make.
- If you leave debt, the result can often impact your estate distribution
- Debts can include taxes, a mortgage, credit card bills, personal loans, condo fees
- A well written and funded trust can insure equal distribution
When you’re deciding how to divide your assets among multiple heirs, it’s very important to consider who will pay your estate’s debts out of their share. Two bequests that look equal in theory might be very different in practice once debts are taken into account.
Generally, when a person dies, his or her outstanding debts must be paid out of “probate assets.” This means the assets that pass to someone according to the person’s will. But many assets don’t pass via a will. For instance, a jointly held bank account, jointly owned real estate, an IRA, a 401(k), and a “transfer on death” brokerage account might all pass to someone outside of a will, and thus not count as probate assets.
- First, make sure you have the legal right to sell the property
- One person’s idea of trash might be another person’s treasure
- We can recommend several good estate sale businesses in our area
We accumulate a lot of things over a lifetime, and at some point – often because of the death of a loved one, or because a senior is downsizing and moving – we need to get rid of some or all of them. An estate sale is one way to dispose of possessions that you no longer want or need.
There are many companies that help families to sell furniture, jewelry, and other belongings. An estate sale company will take care of the entire process in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds – usually from 25 to 50 percent. The company will handle sorting the goods, staging the house, setting prices, promoting the sale, and hiring workers. There may be a separate fee for cleaning up. Goods that aren’t sold are usually donated to charity.
- If a family member provides care, you need a contract
- The agreement can save a family tens of thousands of dollars
- Eventual nursing home eligibility may depend on that agreement
A growing number of seniors are providing a salary or other form of reimbursement to their family members who provide them with personal care. If you’re thinking of doing so, it can be a very good idea to draw up a written contract. This can make it easier to qualify for Medicaid, and can help a family in other ways as well.
It might seem odd to sign a contract with your family. Many children feel awkward about asking for compensation, and many parents assume that the children should help them solely out of love. However, children often devote enormous time and resources to caring for an aging relative, and it’s not unreasonable for them to be compensated in some way. And if there are several siblings and one is more involved in providing care than the others, a contract can be a good way to reward the child who is doing the work without having to divide family assets unequally in a will.
- A new tax-saving account for families with disabled children
- The beneficiary must have become disabled before age 26
- Many families will want to have both a special needs trust and an ABLE account
Congress recently approved a new kind of tax-saving account for the benefit of families with disabled children. It’s called an Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, account.
An ABLE account is a bit like a 529 college savings account. Family members and others can contribute to it on an after-tax basis, up to $14,000 per year each. The money in the account can be invested tax-free, and withdrawn tax-free for specified purposes. These purposes include a disabled beneficiary’s housing, education, transportation, health, employment support, and use of assistive technology.