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

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

Michigan Real Estate Law: Should I Appeal My Property Tax Assessment?

Posted By Scot Putzig on February 18, 2014

Time is of the Essence: Now is the time to decide whether to appeal your current residential or industrial/commercial property tax assessment. When you receive your assessment notice for your home or business, should you discuss it with a real estate attorney? If you own industrial/commercial property, the deadline for filing an appeal with the Michigan Tax Tribunal is during the summer. However, if you own residential property, your first step is the local taxing authority’s board of review held annually in March. In addition, appeal assessments in Grand Rapids or Detroit require you to participate in an assessor’s review prior to appealing to your local board of review. It is important to plan ahead to avoid running afoul

Northwestern College Football Players File Suit for Unionization Rights

Posted By Scot Putzig on February 13, 2014

Although Seattle won the Super Bowl and Florida State is the new college football national champion, the college football players at Northwestern University continue playing, but this time on a different field - the courtroom. On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, with support from the Steelworkers Union, a majority of Northwestern college football players appealed to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for unionization rights as “employees” of Northwestern University. The players claim that Northwestern University, and the N.C.A.A. as a whole, have used the concepts of amateurism and the “student-athlete” to avoid having to share revenues from ever-increasing TV contracts. Players seek to compel universities to provide long-term

Protecting your business’s name, logo, or tag line

Posted By Andrea Raymond on November 20, 2013

You can protect your business’s name, logo, or tag line by having Shinners & Cook file an application for a Federal Trademark or Services Mark (“Mark”) through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You can register a name, “doing business as” name, logo, combination of a logo and a name, or a tag line or phrase that you plan to use. Registering a name, logo, or tag line keeps others from using that name, logo, or tag line and keeps consumers from being confused between your name and another company’s name. Before Shinners & Cook files an application, we first make sure that no one else has registered a name, logo, or tag line that is similar to yours. Once your Mark is registered, no one else can be approved by

Fake state forms sent via regular mail

Posted By Tom Basil on August 1, 2013

We are all used to receiving emails from Nigerian princes trying to flee an oppressive regime or winning an online lottery we never entered, both promising millions of dollars in money if we just provide our bank account information and our social security number.  We learned to ignore them.  The powers of numbers associated with the internet allow millions of emails to be sent out at relatively little cost, with the potential for big results in the form of your entire bank balance. But now a Lansing based company is trying the opposite approach.  Send out thousands of forms by regular mail in hopes of getting just $125 each from unsuspecting victims; companies not paying too close attention to what appears to be just another

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