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

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

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

Real Estate Law: Property Tax Appeals in Michigan

Posted By Shinners & Cook on November 18, 2011

Over the last four years, the State of Michigan, in general, and the communities of Mid Michigan, in particular, have been hard hit by the ongoing national recession.  In addition to high unemployment and a shrinking economy, we experienced unprecedented reductions in real estate property values. As a result of the recession, municipalities and assessors are placed in a unique and unfamiliar position.  Rather than raising assessments and property taxes to correspond with historical increases in property values, assessors are being forced to decrease assessments.  These changes in the real estate market have reduced municipal budgets and require a change in the way municipal assessors conduct business. Many property owners

How I Protect my Family’s Income with Little Additional Expense

Posted By Shinners & Cook on September 21, 2011

How many people do you know who have been injured in an auto accident to the extent their long-term income has been negatively affected? In Michigan, you're required to buy automobile liability insurance to protect others if you screw up and seriously hurt someone seriously. Because it's required, you cannot legally avoid the cost of that coverage although other optional auto related protection is available at an additional cost. Despite Michigan’s no-fault law, any long-term protection of my earnings if I become disabled to the extent I cannot work, comes from liability coverage. Michigan law only requires each driver to buy at least $20,000 per person/ $40,000 per accident of Public Liability coverage should they be found

When Times are Bad. . . or Good.

Posted By Tom Basil on June 2, 2011

We have all experienced the tough economic climate over the last couple of years.  Nowhere has that been harder felt than here in Michigan where job losses have been reported to be as high as 1 in 5, of the job loss of the nation as a whole, over the last ten years.  To put it in perspective, and this is obviously not the actual way the numbers panned out, for every one job the other 49 states lost (one job each) Michigan lost 9.8 jobs during that same period. Thankfully things seem to be on an uptick here with manufacturing picking up pace. As it turns out there are two times when business owners begin to squawk about how much or how little they are making.  And it is these same two times where we see an uptick in corporate