Wills, Trusts, Business, Real Estate, and Probate Blog

What's new in estate planning, business, and real estate law.

The Death of Billionaire Tom Benson Provides Insight Into Privacy in Wills & Trusts and The Dangers of Challenging Your Father’s Competence

Posted By Robert Miller on March 20, 2018

Former billionaire owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans, Tom Benson, passed away.  He was on his third wife and there was an apparent fight with his daughter in 2015 over his mental competence regarding running these organizations.  Yes, predictable result. It should be noted that Wills tend to be made public because they are filed, and Trusts tend to remain private.  Therefore, what goes into a Will is potentially important for the privacy of the family.  In this case, the Will, which has been filed, appears to be a typical Pour-Over Will, which names the Trustee of his Revocable Living Trust as the benefactor of all his property.  However, Mr. Benson did not stop there. The Will goes on to provide

Supreme Court Expands Protections for Federal Trademarks

Posted By Scot Putzig on August 22, 2017

On June 19, 2017, the Supreme Court ruled in Matal v. Tam, that the anti-disparagement provisions of the federal Lanham Act, which governs federal trademark applications, infringes on free speech rights of trademark applicants. The Supreme Court held that Asian-American members of the rock band “The Slants” have the right to trademark their disparaging name in a ruling that will potentially have a broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied to federal trademarks. The United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected the band’s federal trademark application and cited the anti-disparagement provision of the Lanham Act prohibiting federal trademarks that “disparage…or bring…into contempt or disrepute” any “persons, living

Michigan Court of Appeals Affirms Corporate Limited Liability Protections

Posted By Scot Putzig on July 10, 2017

Under Michigan law, corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) are treated as separate and distinct entities or “persons.” Shareholders, owners, and members are presumably not liable for business obligations as a general rule. This enables business shareholders, owners, and members to be free from personal liability for business obligations, liabilities, and debts. However, there is an exception to this rule known as “piercing the corporate veil.” “Piercing the corporate veil” of corporate limited liability sometimes occurs in Michigan business litigation. Under this exception, owners of a corporation or limited liability company can be found liable for the business’s obligations by failing to adhere to corporate

Does My Business Need to Protect Its Intellectual Property?

Posted By Scot Putzig on March 21, 2017

Whether your business is retail, service, industrial, or otherwise, its logos, names, products, customers, and business practices may be worth protecting from competitors and former employees.  Whether you have a successful business or are just starting out, every business needs to determine what its intellectual property is and whether it is valuable enough to protect. There are four basic kinds of intellectual property which a business can protect:  trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and patents.  Intellectual property can be one of a business’s most valuable assets, and should be protected ferociously.  Think of the formula for Coke, the “11 herbs and spices” of KFC, or even the name of your business.  How would you feel

Goodbye, Dower! Hello, Equality!

Posted By Kelli King-Penner on January 17, 2017

Recently the Michigan Legislature took a huge step towards furthering the equal treatment of its residents and their real property interests by eliminating an archaic and unnecessary law treating men and women unequally.  On January 5, 2016, Governor Snyder signed a series of bills that eliminated dower rights in Michigan.  Now, I’m sure most of you reading this have two questions: What is Dower? How does this affect Michigan residents, including those in the Saginaw, Midland, and Bay county areas, like me? Fear not readers and allow me to explain why this new law is a win for equal treatment and a step in the right direction for Michigan residents like you. What is Dower? Dower is a married woman’s right to a