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

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

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

A Will Does Not Avoid Probate – A Will IS Probate

Posted By Robert Miller on December 8, 2009

Many people considering their estate plan would like to avoid probate. I have found that many who have a will in place believe they have avoided probate. Avoiding probate eliminates unnecessary attorney fees (starting at $2,500.00 and sometimes much more), keeps your affairs private, keeps the court system out of your private matters, and it circumvents the months of delay that is needed for a probate action. A will is essentially a letter to the judge. It will, by definition, be enforced during a probate action filed with your local probate court. Why have a will? First, if you have minor children it is the best way to name a guardian for your children in the event of your passing. Naming such guardians is a parental

Ryan O’Neal Left out of Farrah Fawcett’s Will

Posted By Robert Miller on November 30, 2009

Our national news media loves headlines like “Ryan O’Neal Left out of Farrah Fawcett’s Will”, leaving the reader with the impression there was something wrong with their relationship. “How could she?” The simple answer is that she (and they) had a good estate planning attorney. Ryan O’Neal has told the press he was with her when she signed and is totally fine with it. Here is the deal, Ryan O’Neal undoubtedly has a taxable estate with out including Farrah Fawcett’s wealth. Therefore, every dollar of Farrah’s money he receives will cost his estate about 55 cents when he dies. In other words over half of every cent he inherits from her would go for federal estate taxes. That does not make any sense and is one reason why (at least

Even “The Dogs” Will Fight Over an Uncertain Will

Posted By Robert Miller on August 24, 2009

Leona Helmsley’s shows what happens when basic decisions are left to the Trustees or Personal Representatives. The Humane Society of the United States, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Maddies Fund have has filed suit in New York’s Surrogate Court to overthrow a decision from February 2009 which gave the trustees sole say over what charities receive the Helmsley money. Obviously, they want more. Remember, Ms. Helmsley died in 2007, leaving nothing to a couple of her grandkids, 12 million dollars for the care of her own dog, and leaving 5+ billion dollars to homeless dogs without specifying what charities would get the money? Well guess what? The charities are now fighting over the money. The

Michael Jackson’s Will a Mystery to Our Media

Posted By Robert Miller on July 9, 2009

Our major media has been placing so much focus on the "will" of Michael Jackson. This reminds me how many people, including our media, do not really understand the role of a will in a complete estate plan. I have read his will and it has a minor role. Fox News made headlines indicating that the will excludes his ex-wife (Link to Fox News Article) while CNN explores the fact that Paul McCartney was not awarded rights to The Beatles music (Link to CNN article). As a matter of fact I would have been surprised to have either of these issues addressed in his will - and it doesn't. It is his trust that will control the ultimate transfer of Michael Jackson’s wealth. It is the terms of his trust that will determine if his ex-wife is