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

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

Wills and Trusts: Congress’ Failure to Act Forces Estate Plan Reviews

Posted By Robert Miller on August 24, 2010

This past February, I did a blog discussing the fact that Congress has eight years to fix a problem, but suggested that it would be fixed sometime during 2010.  Well, it is now late August, and Congress has still not been able to deal with this problem leaving many taxpayers and families unsure of how to proceed, not to mention their estate planning attorneys.  The August 16, 2010, entry in The Wisconsin Law Journal may have summed this up the best: “It’s an old adage that the wheels of government spin slowly, but few attorneys would have predicted the glacial pace of estate tax reform in Congress, which has led to the repeal for the tax of 2010 and the potential reset of the tax next year to its highest level in a decade.” On

Anna Nicole Smith’s Oral Trust Claim Helps Her Estate’s Litigators Not Her Heirs

Posted By Robert Miller on June 2, 2010

The entire Anna Nicole Smith story regarding her claim to her elderly late husband’s estate began in 2007 with her claim her late husband made a oral will or trust granting her much of his wealth.  This saga continues with attorneys for her estate vowing to, again, go to the Supreme Court.  As was widely reported last month the fight is being carried on so Anna Nicole’s daughter can have an inheritance.  So far, she will have to work for a living as the court rejected the existence of an oral estate plan. This is a good time to ask yourself: “WHAT?”.   But it is worth space in this blog to examine this law and if it this type of lawsuit would even be possible in Michigan.   The short answer?  Yes, it is possible as Michigan

On Deathbed Actor Dennis Hopper is Encouraged to Divorce His Wife of 14 Years in an Estate Planning Dispute

Posted By Robert Miller on April 9, 2010

This is a will and trust story gone horribly wrong.  Sadly, the circumstance are not that uncommon.   Children from a previous marriage and a current wife battling over an estate.  The"Easy Rider" star, filed for divorce shortly after revealing he was battling cancer.  Victoria Hopper, his current wife, is alleging that children from a previous marriage are attempting to improve their position in the estate plan. The judge has ordered the fighting family members to play nice for the benefit of Victoria and Dennis’ seven year old daughter.   He also allowed the wife use of the house and support.   All of this heartache because, as Victoria alleges, other family members are tying to cut her out of the will. As horrible as

Estate Tax Eliminated? For Now.

Posted By Robert Miller on February 10, 2010

For eight years our Congress has been aware of the need to fix our estate tax problems and for eight years nothing was done.  You see, President George W. Bush wanted to eliminate estate tax for good. The best he could do was law that did eliminate estate tax by 2010, because he did not have enough votes to make it permanent.  However, even with a Republican controlled Senate and House during his last term, he was unable to make elimination permanent.  So, under Bush’s law, estate tax is eliminated in 2010 - but that law expires at the end of the year resurrecting the law that preceded Bush’s in 2011.   In other words, estate taxes will apply to significantly more estates in the year 2011. It should be noted that President

No Will? What Really Happens?

Posted By Robert Miller on January 4, 2010

If there is no will Michigan’s intestate succession law (MCLA 700.2101 et seq) determines who the estate is distributed to. I should add, this is not how most people chose to have their estate distributed when given a choice. Essentially, intestate succession is like a default will for anyone who did not prepare one for themselves. If you do not have your own will, here are some basics of “your plan” as set forth in the statutes: A SPOUSE is provided for as follows: 1. The entire estate if no descendant or parent of the decedent. 2. The first $150,000 plus ½ of any balance if there are any surviving descendants that are also descendants of surviving spouse. 3. The first $150,000 plus 3/4 of any balance if no descendant of