Battle Creek Michigan Law Blog

Does SBP coverage continue after you divorce?

The retirement pay that your spouse receives from the military no doubt helps you to sustain the standard of living that you enjoy in Battle Creek. Were he or she to pass away, you may be protected from that financial loss through the military's Survivor Benefit Plan. Yet what happens to that protection if you get a divorce? 

The dissolution of your marriage to a service member (even a retired one) discontinues your access to his or her military benefits. This includes any benefit offered through the SBP. At the same time, the military recognizes how the loss of such benefits may impact you financially (along with the career sacrifices you have made due to your spouse's military career that potentially may have impeded you from securing your own retirement benefit). Thus, it allows for SBP coverage to be extended to you even after your divorce. 

Could a spendthrift trust benefit your heirs?

In a perfect world, one could set up an estate plan that would equally provide all heirs with the income they need to thrive in today's uncertain financial times. But this world is far from perfect, and heirs have different fiscal management abilities.

What can happen with a one-size-fits-all estate plan is that financially naive heirs can burn through their inheritances and leave themselves on the path to the poorhouse, bereft of money, jobs and opportunities. That's not a legacy that you will likely want to leave.

What is a pour-over will?

If you are a Michigan resident who already has a living trust, you may wish to update your will so as to make it a pour-over will. Per FindLaw, your pour-over will generally is a short and simple document stating that your executor must pour over all of the assets you own at the time of your death into the living trust you set up during your lifetime. It is your catch-all document that applies not only to the assets already in your living trust, but also those that you may have forgotten or neglected to put in your living trust.

The advantages of a pour-over will include the following:

  • It is easy to draft and execute and is the only document you need to make sure that your entire estate will wind up in your living trust.
  • It gives you peace of mind that you did not inadvertently forget to put one or more specific assets into your living trust.
  • It likewise relieves you of the responsibility of constantly updating your living trust so as to include new assets.
  • It keeps your assets and financial dealings as private as possible.

What Does the Court Consider When Deciding Custody?

Child custody battles are often the most difficult aspects of navigating a divorce. In this case, it’s helpful for Michigan parents to be aware of the factors commonly used to decide custody during divorce cases. The Spruce explains some things a judge will look at to determine whether custody should be awarded jointly or solely.

Who Cares for the Child

Get the whole financial picture during a divorce

High-asset divorce in Michigan is rarely simple, but there are certain things that we find complicate the process unnecessarily. After all, you do not want to take a bad situation and make it even worse. At Vandervoort, Christ & Fisher, P.C., we find that the best approach is to strike a balance between representing our clients' individual interests and completing the process as soon as possible. 

We find that divorce becomes more complex when one or both of the partners in the marriage has a high net worth. Our approach to these situations is to call in financial professionals to expedite the property division process. Our extended network includes:

  • Certified public accountants
  • Business valuation firms
  • Forensic finance consultants

What to know about Michigan’s repeat DUI & OWI offender laws

As you might imagine, if authorities pull you over in Michigan and subsequently charge you with drinking and driving, the penalties you may face typically increase in severity if you received a similar conviction within a given period. At Vandervoort, Christ & Fisher, P.C., we recognize the negative impact repeat driving under the influence or operating while intoxicated convictions can have on your life, and we have helped many clients facing such charges defend their rights and seek the most favorable outcome possible.

Per Michigan.gov, you become a “repeat offender” in the state’s eyes if you meet one of three circumstances. First, you become a repeat offender if you receive two or more alcohol-related convictions within the same seven-year period. Second, you become a repeat offender if you receive three or more alcohol-related convictions within the same 10-year period. Third, you can achieve repeat-offender status if you receive three or more convictions for driving on a revoked or suspended license within the same seven-year period if your convictions led to a mandatory revocation or suspension of your license.

The nightmare of parental abduction is real

Anyone who has ever dealt with the abduction of their children by a non-custodial family member, e.g., the child's other parent or extended family members, can attest to the seriousness of the situation. You fear being separated from your children through the rest of their all-too-brief childhood years and have no control over the lies the kids are told to explain your sudden absence from their lives.

This nightmare scenario plays out each day in the United States. According to figures provided by the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), nearly 50 percent of kidnapped children are taken by family members, usually a parent. Most often the victims are 5 years of age or younger.

Strong emotions and the divorce process

All sorts of challenges can come up when someone works through the divorce process, from financial concerns about the distribution of property or child support to the time they lose dealing with legal issues. However, one of the most difficult aspects of divorce for some people is the strong emotional impact that splitting up with a spouse can have—and the divorce process in general. If you are struggling with strong emotions during your divorce, or worry that this will become an issue, it is pivotal to look for ways to reduce the emotional impact of divorce and move forward.

Sometimes, people may face an incredible amount of anxiety because they are unsure of what their future will hold after a divorce or do not know how to handle certain divorce-related issues. Divorce can be overwhelming and high levels of stress are not uncommon, but some may be able to relieve these feelings by comprehensively going over their case and having confidence in the decisions they make. Ending a marriage can also result in depression and some people may feel as if they are unable to live on their own or away from their children. In some instances, people may even become very angry with their former spouse or the outcome of a courtroom dispute.

Dividing a 401k equally

For those in Battle Creek that are preparing for divorce proceedings, among the most pressing issues they must deal with is comprehending which of their assets will be subject to property division. Typically, one of the more valuable assets that divorcing couples share are the funds available through retirement savings accounts (such as a 401k). Some might question the use of the word "share" in this context given that most view a 401k as an individual asset one earns through his or her employment. Yet any assets accrued into a 401k during a marriage are indeed considered to be marital property

According to the 401K Help Center, equally dividing the marital funds in a 401k is typically one of the most common methods divorcing couples utilize when dealing with this asset. To do this, a couple must first obtain a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This is a court order which entitles an alternate payee (other than the contributor) to a portion of the assets housed in a retirement account. With a QDRO, the one contributing to a 401k can stipulate that a disbursement be made to his or her ex-spouse in a single lump sum in the amount that he or she is entitled to. However, this could leave either spouse facing some severe tax penalties. 

The power of powers of appointment

It is not a closely held secret that estate planning and probate in Michigan are complicated. However, some key tools corollary to the process might help individuals avoid the most frustrating and confusing legal procedures surrounding inheritance and long-term wealth management.

Responsible property owners often plan carefully to ensure the just and even distribution of their estates. Of course, these plans often include forming trusts to distribute wealth. Courts and beneficiaries alike typically respect those plans, but even the most carefully laid plans occasionally require adjustment. To that end, one might write a power of appointment.

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The Battle Creek Tower
70 Michigan Avenue West
Suite 450
Battle Creek, MI 49017

Toll Free: 877-753-1211
Phone: 269-841-5934
Fax: 269-965-0646
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28 West Chicago Street
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Coldwater, MI 49036

Toll Free: 877-753-1211
Phone: 269-841-5934
Fax: 269-965-0646
Map & Directions