Battle Creek Michigan Law Blog

3 Essential Estate Planning Tips

No matter your age or financial status, estate planning is a crucial aspect of preparing for the future. For people in Michigan without an estate plan in place, you could run the risk of your assets being dispersed to the wrong people or even having your wishes for end-of-life care being denied. In this case, U.S. News & World Report offers the following tips to help you create a solid and legally binding estate plan.

A Living Will Makes Medical Wishes Known

Caught selling prescription drugs? Get advice and build a defense

Sometimes patients wind up with extra pain pills after they suffered an injury or had surgery. They may wonder what they should do with the pills they have left, and a few may decide to sell them to someone else.

This is a terrible idea. For one, it's illegal to sell or give away your prescription medicine to another person. This holds true even if the person is also prescribed the same medicine as you were.

High-profile divorce and negative attention

Whenever someone splits up with their spouse, there may be a number of challenges they have to work through. However, the end of a marriage can be particularly difficult for high-profile couples who may live life in the public eye. From gossip columns and TV reports to social media posts, the digital era has brought even more ways for information to spread quicker and make daily life miserable for some people. Whether you are already struggling with negative attention or plan on splitting up with your spouse soon and expect that this issue will arise, it is important to be fully prepared.

Divorce brings various legal issues into consideration and this is particularly true for those who have a lot of assets. Property division and alimony can be challenging issues for high-profile couples to work through and there may also be all sorts of other stressors, such as determining which parent will have custody. It is best to try to ignore negative attention if you are in this position and focus on your case and which steps you can take to make a favorable end result more probable.

Is your spouse concealing assets?

If you have recently experienced a breakdown within your Michigan marriage, you may have suspicions about your spouse being less than honest with you. If, for example, you worry your spouse is being untruthful with you when it comes to money, it can have a serious impact on your ability to get a fair shake during divorce.

According to the Huffington Post, three out of every 10 spouses who maintain shared bank accounts hide assets or major purchases from their significant others. While telling a white lie about how much you spend on, say, camping equipment or a handbag might seem minor, making omissions or hiding major expenditures ahead of a divorce is downright unethical. So, if you believe your spouse might be making moves in an attempt to strip you of your financial freedom once you divorce, it is important that you recognize how he or she might do so.

What is a charitable trust?

If you are a Michigan resident who enjoys donating to your favorite charity, you may wish to consider establishing a charitable trust so your giving can be more structured and possibly greater than it is now. In addition, one of the best things about a charitable trust is that you can split the assets it contains between your designated charity and a designated noncharitable beneficiary, including yourself if you so desire.

Fidelity Investments explains that the two types of charitable trusts are charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts. Both types give you the following benefits:

  • You retain significant control over the assets you contribute to the trust.
  • You have a great deal of flexibility in the way in which you distribute the contributed assets and the income they produce.
  • You achieve your philanthropic goals.
  • You receive tax benefits.

Parents' courage leads to healthier post-divorce kids

Most divorced spouses want what is best for their kids, so they would do anything in their power to help their children adjust to life after the split. Research shows this attitude benefits the youngest members of families and helps Michigan's sons and daughters grow up to be healthier adults. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds parents that putting their kids' needs first means keeping the family routine as much as possible during the separation and divorce. The academy does not guarantee this will be easy since new dynamics include visitation or split arrangements between two homes, but change can feel overwhelming to adults and so much more for kids. Anything moms and dads can do to keep children in a rhythm that follows their normal pattern will help them adjust to their new lives.

How to know when to step in with elderly parents' affairs

If you have aging parents, you may already have concerns over how they are managing their fiscal affairs. While not all elderly people suffer from dementia and other memory problems, cognitive impairment can bring a host of unwelcome changes into senior citizens' lives.

Once dementia really sets in, it is often impossible for its victims to manage their affairs. But when only mild cognitive impairment is present, it can be challenging for adult children to know when it's time to step in and take control of the situation. 

Determining fair market value of collections during divorce

Many spouses may think they know best when it comes to the value of their personal collections during a Michigan divorce. However, using online research or a guesstimate figure could skew the divorce settlement considerably in one spouse's favor.

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, experts recommend hiring a professional appraiser for collections such as the following:

  • Paintings or prints
  • Baseball cards
  • Antique furniture
  • Jewelry
  • Guns
  • Stamps

How Is Child Custody Determined?

If you’re facing a divorce in Michigan, you’re most likely concerned about how child custody is determined. In fact, the courts will look at many different factors when deciding custody, from the relationship with each parent to any special educational or medical needs. VeryWellFamily.com offers the following insight on how custody decisions are typically made.

Who Sees the Child’s Daily Needs

Field sobriety tests not always accurate

Despite the stereotypes that still abound today, many very responsible and accomplished people in Michigan find themselves arrested for and accused of drunken driving. It is actually easier than one might thing to be in this position especially when you realize what an officer needs to actually place you under arrest.

You have likely heard about field sobriety tests that people may be asked to participate in during a roadside stop. It is the outcome of these tests that may support a law enforcement officer's decision to arrest you. In fact, according to FieldSobrietyTests.org, that is the purpose of these tests. They cannot and do not attempt to measure actual intoxication. Instead, they aim to provide or collect enough evidence to show that you might be intoxicated.

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