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

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

Wills and Trusts: What about the Pet?

Posted By Robert Miller on February 27, 2013

In Michigan, like most states, a pet is not considered a human and, therefore, is not an Heir or Devisee under estate planning documents such as Wills and Trusts.  However, a pet may very well be an important part of the family.  In a recent seminar (22nd Annual Drafting Estate Planning Documents-ICLE), one of the speakers indicated that 600,000 pets are euthanized a year because of the death of an owner and lack of a caregiver.  This is not necessary so long as the beloved pet is included when you prepare your estate plan. Michigan, in fact, has a statutory provision that allows for the care of a designated domestic pet animal.  Such a Trust is valid and can help ensure pets are taken care of and not euthanized upon one’s

Estate Planning: Does Permanent Portability Mean the End of the Credit-Shelter Trust?

Posted By Robert Miller on February 14, 2013

My second read of the “Fiscal Cliff Bill” raises the interesting question concerning the Credit-Shelter Trust.  For decades people getting their estate plans done have utilized a vehicle known as the Marital Bypass Trust; the A-B Trust; the Credit-Shelter Trust or some other name which means that the husband and wife each create their own Revocable Living Trust.  Upon the demise of the first to die, a Trust is created for the benefit of the children to use up that individuals exclusion amount with the remaining going to the surviving spouse.  Or some similar version of this. In 2010, when Congress dealt with a two year extension of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, they added portability.  Estate

Wills and Trusts: My first read on the “Fiscal Cliff Bill”

Posted By Robert Miller on January 7, 2013

I finally had an opportunity to read the actual “Fiscal Cliff” bill which is H.R.8 “American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012”.  As I write this blog, the Act has not yet been signed by the President, however, he has promised to do so.  It does many things; however, I will limit this brief article to the affect on wills, trusts, and estate taxes. We must first start with 2001, when President Bush signed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.  That Act did much for reducing taxes and, eventually, eliminating estate tax, however it had a sunset provision, causing it to expire at the end of 2010. In 2010, in the eleventh hour, Congress dealt with the sunset provision, extending it until the end of 2012.  The

Estate Planning for Your Digital Assets

Posted By Shinners & Cook on April 17, 2012

Even if you haven’t thought about your estate plan today, I am certain that you have checked your email, made an online bill payment, or logged into your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn account.  That’s just how the world works these days.  But would it surprise you to learn that new legislation is making these “digital assets” a part of your Probate Estate, too? Digital assets are defined as any online accounts that you own, or any file that you store on your computer or in a cloud drive.  While many of these assets have no monetary value whatsoever, they often have sentimental value to family members. And lawmakers across the nation are increasingly coming together to hold that the family of a deceased person has just as much

400 Million Reasons to Do Your Estate Plan When You Are of Sound Mind

Posted By Robert Miller on February 1, 2012

Early versions of Obama-Care had older folks making end-of-life decisions with a government-payed counselor on the way into a medical facility.  The time to make decisions concerning Patient Advocates and Advance Directives is not on your way into a hospital but rather when you are of a sound, clear thinking mind without the numerous stresses that occur while being admitted into a medical facility. In addition, by waiting too long you allow yourself to be manipulated by family members, accountants and lawyers.  Take the case of Heiress Huguette Clark.  At 98 and with $400 million she finally prepared her first Will, naming her nieces and nephews as the primary beneficiaries.  Amazingly, within only 6 weeks, she prepared a new