Battle Creek Michigan Law Blog

Providing for your disabled child after your death

Estate planning in Michigan can ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death. If you have a child with a mental or physical disability, or if they need someone to oversee their affairs, this is critical. At Vandervoort, Christ & Fisher, P.C., our experienced team can help set up a trust that provides for your child without jeopardizing their government benefits.

According to U.S. News & World Report, setting up a special needs trust can be a complicated process. It must meet state and federal standards.  An inheritance of more than $2000 may make your beneficiary ineligible for food stamps, Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income. If there is a sizeable sum of money involved from an accident or malpractice settlement, the trust may be subject to court approval.

Making memory care decisions involves forethought

If you have an elderly parent for whose care you are now responsible, you may face some hard decisions — namely where your Mom or Dad will live out their days. If your parent has a diagnosis of dementia, that can limit the options that are available.

Not everyone is able to provide loving care for their parents once they become debilitated by dementia. Those adults who are members of the so-called "sandwich generation" may be caught between providing care for their minor children as well as their aging parents. In many of these cases, the responsibilities simply become too much to handle.

What happens to military pension in divorce?

If your spouse is a member of the military, you may wonder if you have any claim to his or her military pension in your divorce settlement in Michigan. While the law does not require that you get a portion of the pension, the law does allow for the court to divide it as an asset in a divorce, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

How much you can get is based on your ex-spouse's disposable pension pay. The limit is 50 percent. Keep in mind that any payments you receive is considered income and you must claim it on your taxes. In addition, if your ex-spouse dies, your payments will stop. If you die, you cannot pass on the payments to anyone else.

What happens if I refuse the breathalyzer test?

Drivers in Michigan who are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence will more than likely be asked to take a breathalyzer test. While you have the right to refuse the test, it is important to understand there are penalties for saying no. These need to be taken into consideration when weighing the benefits and risks of the test.

According to the State of Michigan, refusing the breathalyzer test can result in long-term consequences. The first is you will automatically have six points added to your record, which typically means higher car insurance premiums and serious penalties if you get too many more points. In the state, you also get your license suspended for one year if you do not take the test. In fact, the officer has the right to destroy your license right then and there. Even if you are found to not be driving intoxicated, your license suspension will still be upheld, although you do have the right to appeal this decision.

Can I avoid media coverage of my divorce?

When you or your spouse is a high-profile person, it can make the divorce process even more difficult. You may have to be concerned with more than just the divorce. The media often wants to get involved and report on everything they can find. This can cause tension and stress on top of what you are already experiencing.

According to Vanity Fair, there are some tricks you can use that celebrities use to help avoid the media coverage. One of the best options is to get your divorced settled before you ever formally file. This allows you to handle all the details before anyone can even know you are going to get divorced.

Is parallel parenting right for me?

Parents in Michigan who’ve recently undergone a divorce may be interested in co-parenting. However, this technique might not work for people in high-conflict relationships, as it can cause a great deal of stress for both parents as well as kids. Parallel parenting is an alternative in this case, which can keep conflict to a minimum while also ensuring kids are well cared for. Psychology Today explains parallel parenting so you can determine whether it’s right for you.

With co-parenting, parents must work together to come to an agreement on child-rearing issues. Conversely, parallel parenting entails each parent working independently in the manner they see fit. While there can be some consensus on major issues, day-to-day parenting decisions will happen independently of the other party. For instance, disciplinary techniques and routines can be drastically different in each home.

Your situation will dictate your estate plan

When creating an estate plan, you need to pay close attention to your personal situation. The same holds true when reviewing your estate plan for changes. If you make decisions based on the needs of someone else, you could end up making mistakes that harm both you and your loved ones now and in the future.

Here are some of the most common situations, including advice on how to tackle each one from an estate planning perspective:

  • Young and single: If you're unmarried, have no children and are under the age of 30, a simple will may be just what you need to feel good about your estate plan. With this document in place, you can name a beneficiary to ensure that your assets end up with the right person should you pass on unexpectedly.
  • Living with your partner, but unmarried: This is more common today than ever before, so you may find yourself in this situation at some point. The thing to remember here is that you need to have a will. If you don't, even if you live with the person, he or she won't be in line to receive any of your assets upon your death.
  • You have children: Everything changes when you bring children into the world, so you need to adjust your estate plan accordingly. In addition to naming your children in your will, if applicable, you also need to name a guardian.
  • You're closing in on or have reached retirement age: At this point, your children are grown and it's just you and your spouse. Even so, this doesn't mean you can forget about your estate plan. You may need to make some key adjustments, such as creating a trust and making sure your health care power of attorney is in order.

How can you maximize your inheritance?

You have been working hard to plan your estate and complete all of the different requirements to have a well-rounded and concise plan for how you would like your inheritance distributed in Michigan. Now, you have reached the point where you need to name beneficiaries who will be the recipients of your assets following your death. Selecting who you would like to name as heirs is highly dependent on your relationship with the people you care about. Being able to give these people the most is something you can facilitate by planning things the right way. 

While you may be someone who would like to leave everyone with something, spreading your assets too thin may actually be more counterproductive. Rather, take the time to develop a strategy so you can maximize the breadth of your estate plan. According to Forbes Magazine, if you have dependents or a spouse, your primary focus should be on their wellbeing before you begin allotting assets to other parties. When you do decide to name other beneficiaries, it is in your best interest to keep amounts as even as possible. This will help in reducing contention between your heirs both before and after your death. 

How are alcohol addictions treated?

If you’ve recently been charged with drunk driving in Michigan, you probably have a lot on your mind. One thing you may be concerned about is whether you have an addiction to alcohol and how to seek treatment if so. WebMD explains the different treatment options that will be available to you if you decide to seek professional help.

Detox is often the first step

How can I choose the right trustee?

While having a trust as part of your estate plan is a good decision, choosing the right trustee can be a complex matter. You want to be able to count on the person you choose while also resting assured that he or she has the ability to make tough financial decisions on your behalf. The AARP offers the following guidance to help you narrow your search and secure a trustworthy trustee for your estate.

Look for someone with common sense

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