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Yes, "Stirpes" is a Word

By Jill Daly on February 19, 2018

In estate planning, lawyers sometimes use archaic legal terms. At times, these legal words are unnecessary and can create confusion. At other times, they are the best way of clearly expressing the client’s objectives. One of the phrases that often makes clients feel disconnected from the estate planning process is the term “per stirpes.” Per stirpes is a term that is used to explain...

The Threat of a Lawyer

By Doug Chalgian on February 16, 2018

So your parent died and one of your siblings is the executor of the estate, or trustee of the trust – and nothing is happening. Gentle prodding hasn’t worked. Months, even years have gone by – and you’re starting to wonder: What do I have to do to get this over with? Hiring a lawyer is one option. But don’t be naïve. Once one lawyer gets involved, the usual result is that everybody...

OMG They're Thinking About Getting Married!!

By Joseph Weiler on February 16, 2018

OMG They’re Thinking About Getting Married!! Few things can shake up adult children more than a parent thinking about getting remarried late in life. It comes up in two contexts – one much more difficult to deal with then the other: First, there are simply competent older people who enjoy companionship and who have found someone that they click with. Being old doesn’t mean you have to...

Storm Clouds in Elder Law Land

By Doug Chalgian on January 8, 2018

It seems to me that we are living through what could be a case study on the way the law evolves to address a rapidly changing social environment. More people are living longer.  More people are experiencing age-related cognitive impairments.  At the same time family dysfunction seems to be the rule, not the exception. As a result, the law in the arena of adult guardianships and...

Setting Up A GoFundMe Campaign While Preserving Benefits

By Christopher Smith on November 10, 2017

The Detroit News and other news organizations are reporting a tragic story about a woman who was sexually assaulted and had a child. Friends and family started a GoFundMe campaign to support her and her child and raised over $100,000.  Unfortunately, because of the GoFundMe campaign, she and her child lost health insurance and other financial assistance. There are insufficient facts in the...

Fancy Legal Language Creates Confusion

By Chrysa Milholland on October 24, 2017

The words lawyers use when drafting wills and trusts should be clear.  A recent Court of Appeals case shows the problems that arise when lawyers use flowery language. In the case of Eugenie Dietrich (Court of Appeals Case 332751, 10/17/17), Mom dies leaving a Will that provides for her estate to go to her two sons “in equal shares, share and share alike.”  One son predeceased Mom leaving...

CT gets favorable decision from Court of Appeals

By Doug Chalgian on October 13, 2017

On October 12, 2017, the Michigan Court of Appeals handed down a decision in the Matter of Ueal Patrick.  Click here to read the case. CT represented Ueal and his son Mark in litigation in Jackson County Probate Court, including in the proceeding to have Mark appointed conservator for Ueal, which proceeding was the subject of this appeal. There were at least three issues on appeal, for...

Ladybird Deeds Made Simple

By Susan Chalgian on September 29, 2017

The best way to understand a ladybird deed is to think of it as a beneficiary designation on real estate. That is, the property continues to be owned in all respects by the person creating the deed for so long as they are alive, but when they die, if they haven’t otherwise disposed of it, the property will go to the beneficiaries named in the deed. It was probably about 15 years ago that...

Why Joint Accounts Create so Many Problems

By Michelle Lane on September 29, 2017

Few things end up causing more litigation than accounts that are jointly owned. The problems arise when the person who created the account, and put the money into the account, dies. The issue is whether the remaining owner gets to keep the money – because they are the “surviving owner” - or whether the surviving co-owner was only placed on the account for “convenience,” in which case...

What is an Adult Guardianship?

By John Mabley on September 5, 2017

A guardian is a person appointed by the probate court to make decisions about the personal care of another person. In Michigan, there are three types of guardians: 1) Guardians over children (under 18). 2) Guardians over adults who have developmental disabilities. 3) Guardians over adults under the probate code. A person with a developmental disability is someone who has been unable to...