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

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

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

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