586.498.8400
Contact Us

Estate, Will and Probate Contests

Monday, November 5, 2018

Incorporating Cryptocurrency Into Your Estate Plan

The witty and wise Benjamin Franklin once said, “...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” We can think of no better quote to sum up the developing cryptocurrency economy. The owners of Bitcoin and other digital currencies have a vision for what they hope digital currency will evolve into, but for now, all that they can be assured of is that their assets will be taxed, and that someday they will die. Savvy crypto-holders are preparing for these two eventualities by incorporating their digital assets into their estate plans.

What is cryptocurrency?

If you are reading this post, you most likely know what cryptocurrency is from a technical and cultural standpoint. So, we’re not going to go into that. What we are more interested in is what the law says cryptocurrency is.


Read more . . .


Monday, October 8, 2018

What to Ask Yourself about Estate Planning in Michigan

Estate planning is an important process, and it’s something that everyone should undertake at some point in their lives. However, before getting started, you should ask yourself several questions, including:

  • Who will be my children’s guardian?
  • What types of things should I put in my will?
  • Who will be my estate’s executor?
  • Do I need a power of attorney?
  • Do I need to establish a trust for my children?

Depending on your familiarity with the estate planning process, you may or may not know the answers to these questions…and that’s okay! At Keating Law, PLC, we realize that not everyone has experience with estate planning, which is one of the reasons that our experienced estate planning attorneys are always eager to answer any questions you may have about the process. In the meantime, though, below is some basic information to help you get started with the estate planning process.

Who will be my children’s guardian?

It’s important to designate a guardian for your children during the estate planning process. If you fail to name a guardian, however, this decision will be placed in the hands of the court.

What types of things should I put in my will?

Your will should include, at a minimum, the names of the people chosen to receive your property and the property to be distributed. However, certain types of assets and property should be omitted, including certain kinds of retirement accounts and life insurance policies.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Estate Planning Considerations for Unmarried Couples

Estate planning, which is the legal structuring of the disposition of one's assets, is a process that all couples—both married and unmarried—should consider participating in. However, estate planning is especially important for unmarried couples, as unmarried couples are afforded far less legal protection than those couples who are married. Below are some things that unmarried couples should consider when approaching the estate planning process in Michigan.  

Things to Consider

Who gets the home?  – The family home is an important issue to address during the estate planning process, particularly for unmarried couples who want to leave it to their surviving children while protecting each other’s interests. One way to address this issue is to create a life estate for the surviving partner in the relationship.


Read more . . .


Thursday, June 7, 2018

Estate Planning: Things to Consider in Michigan

Estate planning involves structuring the disposition of one's assets. Estate plans should account for expected and unexpected life events, and they commonly address the way in which assets will be distributed in both life and death. Below are some things to consider when starting the estate planning process in Michigan.


Read more . . .


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Why Casey Kasem’s Kids Think Michigan Needs To Change Its Laws


Do children have a right to visit their dying parents? In Michigan, they soon may thanks to the children of Casey Kasem, Mickey Rooney, and Glen Campbell. Regardless of what the law is, this is something anyone who is making an estate plan should think about.

A lot of attention is paid to parental rights, and rightfully so, but as the Baby Boomer generation ages, a new issue is emerging - adult children who are prevented from visiting their dying parents.
Read more . . .


Saturday, November 11, 2017

How Often Should I Update My Estate Plan?

We all know we’re supposed to change the oil in the car every 3,000 miles, clean our furnace filters monthly, and defragment our hard drives every week or so. But routine maintenance is one of those things that gets skipped when our schedules get too busy. So, we drive our car until it makes that weird noise, run our furnace until it breaks down, and cross our fingers that our computers are set up to do what they need to do on their own in the background.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

DIY Estate Planning Does Not Work Well For Everyone


The Do-It-Yourself, or DIY, movement has become huge since the Great Recession. What started as a necessity has now become a hobby. Hipsters have gone mainstream and it seems like everyone is taking to Instagram to show off pictures of their home brewed kombucha or a bookcase made from an old shipping pallet. But there is one task that DIYers should be extra cautious about tackling on their own:


Read more . . .


Friday, February 14, 2014

Estate Planning Don’ts

Estate Planning Don’ts

Preparing for the future is an uncertain business, but there are steps you can take during your lifetime to simplify matters for your loved ones after you pass, and to ensure your final wishes are carried out. Planning for what happens to your property, or who cares for your family members, upon your death can be a complicated process. To simplify things, we’ve created the following list to help you avoid some of the pitfalls you may encounter before, or even long after, you create your estate plan.

Don’t assume you can plan your estate by yourself. Get help from an estate planning attorney whose training and experience can ensure that you minimize tax implications and simplify the process of settling your estate.

Don’t put off your estate planning needs because of finances. To be sure, there are upfront costs for establishing the estate plan; however establishing your estate plan is an investment in the future well-being of your family, and one which will result in a far greater cash savings over the long term.

Don’t make changes to your estate plan without consulting your attorney. Changes in one area of your estate plan could impact other provisions you have made, triggering legal or tax implications you never intended.

Don’t assume your children will intuitively know your wishes, and handle the situation appropriately upon your death. Money and sentimental items can cause a rift between even the most agreeable siblings, and they will be especially vulnerable as they deal with the emotional impact of your passing.

Don’t assume that once you’ve prepared your estate plan it’s set in stone. Estate planning documents regularly need to be revised, often due to a change in marital status, birth or death of a family member, or a significant change in the value of your estate. Beneficiary designations should be periodically reviewed to ensure they are up to date.

Don’t forget to notify your family members, friends or other beneficiaries of your estate plan. Make sure your executor and successor trustee have access to your end-of-life documents.

Don’t assume your spouse will handle everything if something happens to you. It’s possible your spouse may be incapacitated at the same time, for example if you both are injured in the same accident. A proper estate plan appoints alternate representatives to handle your affairs if both you and your spouse are unable to do so.

Don’t use the same person as your agent under both the financial and healthcare powers of attorney. Using the same individual gives that person an incredible amount of influence over your future and it may be a good idea to split up the decision-making authority.

Don’t forget to name alternate agents, executors or successor trustees. You may name a family member to fill one of these roles, and forget to revise the document if that person dies or becomes incapacitated. By adding alternates, you ensure there is no question regarding who has the authority to act on your or the estate’s behalf.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

“Simple” Estate Plans

Beware of “Simple” Estate Plans

“I just need a simple will.”  It’s a phrase estate planning attorneys hear practically every other day.   From the client’s perspective, there’s no reason to do anything complicated, especially if it might lead to higher legal fees.  Unfortunately, what may appear to be a “simple” estate is all too often rife with complications that, if not addressed during the planning process, can create a nightmare for you and your heirs at some point in the future.   Such complications may include:

Probate - Probate is the court process whereby property is transferred after death to individuals named in a will or specified by law if there is no will. Probate can be expensive, public and time consuming.  A revocable living trust is a great alternative that allows your estate to be managed more efficiently, at a lower cost and with more privacy than probating a will.  A living trust can be more expensive to establish, but will avoid a complex probate proceeding. Even in states where probate is relatively simple, you may wish to set up a living trust to hold out of state property or for other reasons.

Minor Children - If you have minor children, you not only need to nominate a guardian, but you also need to set up a trust to hold property for those children. If both parents pass away, and the child does not have a trust, the child’s inheritance could be held by the court until he or she turns 18, at which time the entire inheritance may be given to the child. By setting up a trust, which doesn’t have to come into existence until you pass away, you are ensuring that any money left to your child can be used for educational and living expenses and can be administered by someone you trust.  You can also protect the inheritance you leave your beneficiaries from a future divorce as well as creditors.

Second Marriages - Couples in which one or both of the spouses have children from a prior relationship should carefully consider whether a “simple” will is adequate. All too often, spouses execute simple wills in which they leave everything to each other, and then divide the property among their children. After the first spouse passes away, the second spouse inherits everything. That spouse may later get remarried and leave everything he or she received to the new spouse or to his or her own children, thereby depriving the former spouse’s children of any inheritance.  Couples in such situations should establish a special marital trust to ensure children of both spouses will be provided for.

Taxes - Although in 2011 and 2012, federal estate taxes only apply to estates over $5 million for individuals and $10 million for couples, that doesn’t mean that anyone with an estate under that amount should forget about tax planning. Many states still impose a state estate tax that should be planned around. Also, in 2013 the estate tax laws are slated to change, possibly with a much lower exemption amount.

Incapacity Planning – Estate planning is not only about death planning.  What happens if you become disabled?  You need to have proper documents to enable someone you trust to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated.  There are a myriad of options that you need to be aware of when authorizing someone to make decisions on your behalf, whether for your medical care or your financial affairs.  If you don’t establish these important documents while you have capacity, your loved ones may have to go through an expensive and time-consuming guardianship or conservatorship proceeding to petition a judge to allow him or her to make decisions on your behalf.  

By failing to properly address potential obstacles, over the long term, a “simple” will can turn out to be incredibly costly.   An experienced estate planning attorney can provide valuable insight and offer effective mechanisms to ensure your wishes are carried out in the most efficient manner possible while providing protection and comfort for you and your loved ones for years to come.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Avoid Estate Plan Family Feuds

Avoid Family Feuds through Proper Estate Planning

A family feud over an inheritance is not a game and there is no prize package at the end of the show. Rather, disputes over who gets your property after your death can drag on for years and deplete your entire estate. When most people are preparing their estate plans, they execute wills and living trusts that focus on minimizing taxes or avoiding probate. However, this process should also involve laying the groundwork for your estate to be settled amicably and according to your wishes. Communication with your loved ones is key to accomplishing this goal.

Feuds can erupt when parents fail to plan, or make assumptions that prove to be untrue. Such disputes may evolve out of a long-standing sibling rivalry; however, even the most agreeable family members can turn into green-eyed monsters when it comes time to divide up the family china or decide who gets the vacation home at the lake.

Avoid assumptions. Do not presume that any of your children will look out for the interests of your other children. To ensure your property is distributed to the heirs you select, and to protect the integrity of the family unit, you must establish a clear estate plan and communicate that plan – and the rationale behind certain decisions – to your loved ones.

In formulating your estate plan, you should have a conversation with your children to discuss who will be the executor of your estate, or who wants to inherit a specific personal item. Ask them who wants to be the executor, or consider the abilities of each child in selecting who will settle your estate, rather than just defaulting to the eldest child. This discussion should also include provisions for your potential incapacity, and address who has the power of attorney.

Do not assume any of your children want to inherit specific items. Many heirs fight as much over sentimental value as they do monetary items. Cash and investments are easily divided, but how do you split up Mom’s engagement ring or the table Dad built in his woodshop? By establishing a will or trust that clearly states who is to receive such special items, you avoid the risk that your estate will be depleted through costly legal proceedings as your children fight over who is entitled to such items.

Take the following steps to ensure your wishes are carried out:

  • Discuss your estate planning with your family. Ask for their input and explain anything “unusual,” such as special gifts of property or if the heirs are not inheriting an equal amount.
     
  • Name guardians for your minor children.
     
  • Write a letter, outside of your will or trust, that shares your thoughts, values, stories, love, dreams and hopes for your loved ones.
     
  • Select a special, tangible gift for each heir that is meaningful to the recipient.
     
  • Explain to your children why you have appointed a particular person to serve as your trustee, executor, agent or guardian of your children.
     
  • If you are in a second marriage, make sure your children from a prior marriage and your current spouse know that you have established an estate plan that protects their interests.
     

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Retirement Accounts and Estate Planning

Retirement Accounts and Estate Planning

For many Americans, retirement accounts comprise a substantial portion of their wealth. When planning your estate, it is important to consider the ramifications of tax-deferred retirement accounts, such as 401(k) and 403(b) accounts and traditional IRAs. (Roth IRAs are not tax-deferred accounts and are therefore treated differently). One of the primary goals of any estate plan is to pass your assets to your beneficiaries in a way that enables them to pay the lowest possible tax.

Generally, receiving inherited property is not a transaction that is subject to income tax. However, that is not the case with tax-deferred retirement accounts, which represent income for which the government has not previously collected income tax. Money cannot be kept in an IRA indefinitely; it must be distributed according to federal regulations. The amount that must be distributed annually is known as the required minimum distribution (RMD). If the distributions do not equal the RMD, beneficiaries may be forced to pay a 50% excise tax on the amount that was not distributed as required.

After death, the beneficiaries typically will owe income tax on the amount withdrawn from the decedent’s retirement account. Beneficiaries must take distributions from the account based on the IRS’s life expectancy tables, and these distributions are taxed as ordinary income. If there is more than one beneficiary, the one with the shortest life expectancy is the designated beneficiary for distribution purposes. Proper estate planning techniques should afford the beneficiaries a way to defer this income tax for as long as possible by delaying withdrawals from the tax-deferred retirement account.

The most tax-favorable situation occurs when the decedent’s spouse is the named beneficiary of the account. The spouse is the only person who has the option to roll over the account into his or her own IRA. In doing so, the surviving spouse can defer withdrawals until he or she turns 70 ½; whereas any other beneficiary must start withdrawing money the year after the decedent’s death.

Generally, a revocable trust should not be the beneficiary of a tax-deferred retirement account, as this situation limits the potential for income tax deferral. A trust may be the preferred option if a life expectancy payout option or spousal rollover are unimportant or unavailable, but this should be discussed in detail with an experienced estate planning attorney. Additionally, there are situations where income tax deferral is not a consideration, such as when an IRA or 401(k) requires a lump-sum distribution upon death, when a beneficiary will liquidate the account upon the decedent’s death for an immediate need, or if the amount is so small that it will not result in a substantial amount of additional income tax.

The bottom line is that trusts typically should be avoided as beneficiaries of tax-deferred retirement accounts, unless there is a compelling non-tax-related reason that outweighs the lost income tax deferral of using a trust. This is a complex area of law involving inheritance and tax implications that should be fully considered with the aid of an experienced estate planning lawyer.


Archived Posts

2019
2018
2017
2014
2013

← Newer12 Older →



© 2019 Keating Law, PLC | Disclaimer
24055 Jefferson Avenue, #101, St. Clair Shores, MI 48080
| Phone: 586-498-8400

Overview of Services | Trust Administration | Living Trusts and Wills | Business Law | Estate Planning | Advanced Estate Planning | Asset Protection | Probate & Estate Administration | Elder Law / Medicaid Planning | Civil Litigation | | Resources | Attorney Profile

Attorney Website Design by
Zola Creative