Power of Attorney

What You Need to Know About Being Named a Power of Attorney Agent for a Parent

When a parent names only one child to the role of power of attorney agent in Michigan, this can possibly generate conflict within the family. If you are dealing with a sibling who has already been named agent under a power of attorney instead of you, or if you have been named agent under a power of attorney over your siblings, here are some important tips to keep in mind.

First of all, an agent under a financial power of attorney does not have the right to bar a sibling from seeing their parent. A medical power of attorney, however, could give that agent the opportunity to prevent access to a parent if it is believed that the visit could be detrimental to the parent’s health.

Next, your parent does not have any legal responsibility to inform you about whom they chose as their agent. In fact, the agent who is appointed under the power of attorney is not required to provide information about the parent to other family members without the parent’s wishes or permission.

You should also be aware that a parent becomes unable to revoke a power of attorney if he or she becomes incompetent. If a parent has become incompetent and is no longer able to remove this power of attorney agent on his or her own and you suspect that the agent is acting inappropriately, family members are eligible to initiate a petition in court challenging that agent.

The court will evaluate the factors of the specific case and if it is determined that the POA agent is not acting in the best interests of the principal, the court can revoke the power of attorney.

The last thing to know about being appointed as a power of attorney agent is that a Michigan power of attorney ends at death. The agent no longer has any power over the principal’s estate, since it will be the executor or the personal representative who will be appointed to serve in that role.

Be Prepared

Who Will Get Your Retirement Account When You Pass Away?

Did you know that outside of your will, there are other pieces of paper you will need to file with certain account managers to verify that you have named a beneficiary? The vast majority of most people’s savings and retirement holdings are located in retirement accounts like IRAs or 401(k)s.

The person who is appointed to inherit the money after your death is known as a beneficiary. This is not a formal exercise. In fact, it is very important for directing the administrator or custodian of the account to formally release the funds to the person of your choosing. This is distinct from anything you have listed out in your will, as the company managing your IRA or 401(k) will defer to the forms filed with them.

It is probably the case that you named a beneficiary when you initially established these accounts. However, any major life event or the turning over of a new year should prompt you to review these beneficiary designations. One of the most common challenges that arises includes failing to update your beneficiary designation forms when you get divorced. Your heirs will face a significant battle if you pass away with an ex-spouse still on the paperwork, as that party is legally entitled to receive it.

Another common challenge to be aware of is the need for successor beneficiaries. If one of your beneficiaries passes away, you need to name another person to receive these assets. For more help, schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer who can help guide you through this process and verify that your beneficiary designation forms help accomplish what you want in your estate plan.

Need a MI estate planning lawyer to help? Reach out to get support today.

Long Term Care

What Is Long-Term Care?

A phrase that frequently comes up in the context of elder law or estate planning is long-term care. This can make it difficult for someone new to the concept to understand what’s incorporated in this term.long term care

At its broadest basis, long-term care includes a variety of different kinds of services that are all aligned to meet a person’s personal or health care needs either during a short or long period of time. These services aim to enable those people who have personal or medical needs to live as independently as possible when they are no longer able to take care of themselves. This is usually associated with activities of daily living. The more activities of daily living that a person is unable to perform on their own, the higher the chances that they will need some form of long-term care support.

Those with advanced medical care needs, such as those with Alzheimer’s, may need more comprehensive long-term care support like a nursing home. Most long-term care is frequently provided by family members and friends at home but adult day care centers, nursing homes and assisted living communities can also help.

The activities of daily living to contemplate as you think about whether a loved one requires additional support include eating, using the toilet, grooming, dressing, bathing and moving around. Long-term care support can also include other services like transportation, adult day care, and meals. Depending on the facility or offering, these services could be free or paid for out of pocket.

Most people frequently trigger a need for long term care when they have an ongoing disability or health condition that is serious. However, accidents or sudden issues, such as a stroke could also prompt someone to require long term care services.

Our MI estate planning office can help you put together a plan that incorporates estate and elder law needs.


Estate Planning

What Is a Gifting Strategy?

Taxes are likely to rise in the coming decades, which means you might have to rethink the financial legacy you’ll leave behind for your families. Your family could face significant tax burdens if you are not smart about your planning and do so without the support of experienced professionals, such as an attorney and a CPA.

Life insurance policies might be one way to enable you to leave behind a gift that safely provides for your loved ones without generating an estate tax burden. Both estate tax and income tax rates are likely to rise in the future due to ongoing increases in the national debt.

So if you have the possibility to generate an income strategy for your loved ones that was estate tax free, would you take it? One such option is using a life insurance policy. There are a very few ways for people to receive income that is free from tax. Life insurance proceeds themselves are income tax free and loans from a life insurance plan are also tax free.

This means that depending on the distribution method they choose, your beneficiaries on your life insurance policy might be able to borrow against their death benefit proceeds income tax free. This means that when they pass, the life insurance proceeds will pay back the outstanding loan balance and the interest, income tax free, enabling the remaining life insurance proceeds to go to their own heirs.

This legacy gifting opportunity should only be done when you have consulted with your financial professional and decided whether or not this aligns with the rest of your goals.

When you meet with a Michigan estate planning lawyer, you can discuss different gifting strategies to help you accomplish your goals.

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Home, Assets, and Possessions: Do You Have a Plan?

Your estate plan incorporates the many unique facets of your life. But all estate plans, regardless of the size of your family, your individual wishes or your perception of your wealth, should have a plan for distributing your home, assets and possessions. This gives you the freedom to allow your loved ones to honor your wishes after you’re gone and it also helps to protect your family.

While estate planning is not always an easy topic to broach, it’s always an important one. This is because it’s the process of anticipating and arranging for an estate’s disposal over the course of life to eliminate uncertainties and also maximize your estate value by streamlining the transfer of assets to beneficiaries. This can help to reduce expenses, including estate taxes.

There are numerous benefits associated with estate planning, particularly when you undertake it at an early age and continue to revise your plan over the course of time. Some of the most common advantages of estate planning include:

  • Direct charitable donations
  • Trust management establishment for your loved ones
  • Clear directives on what you want to happen to your property
  • Eliminating or reducing gift and estate taxes
  • Minimizing the administrative costs for handling your estate after you pass away
  • Protecting your estate from creditor claims, claims from those outside the family or mismanagement

Schedule a consultation with a trusted estate planning lawyer so you can walk through some of the most important aspects of your estate planning and the opportunities ahead of you. At our Michigan law office, we can guide you through the big picture and the details of your estate plan.


Estate Planning 101 On A Yellow Legal Pad

What’s the Difference Between a Living Trust and Power of Attorney?

When it comes to estate planning, there are some basics that everyone should have, but there are also some tools you might or might not need depending on your individual goals.

A living trust gives a person known, as a trustee, the ability to use your money for certain expenses, such as those from a hospital, but it does not give them clear direction about the kind of medical decisions you’d like to make. This is where a power of attorney document can be more beneficial.

A power of attorney, when appropriately drafted by a lawyer, can give a person the permission to use assets for your medical care and to give them instructions about the type of medical care you’re willing to undergo. You might have personal feelings that should be documented and explained to your power of attorney agent.

For example, if your heart were to stop you might not wish to be resuscitated. Other people might have strong beliefs about donating or not donating their organs. A power of attorney allows you to make these important decisions, in addition to providing assets with which to pay for them.

A living trust is very beneficial for dividing certain assets after you pass away or even while you’re still alive, but it does not allow other people to make health care decisions for you. You need a separate document for that, known as a durable power of attorney. For more questions about making medical decisions and appointing people to make these crucial care choices for you, schedule a consultation with a Michigan estate planning lawyer.


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How Many Americans Made Changes to Their Estate Plan in the Pandemic?

Questions about financial management if something happens to you, your overall health care desires, and the structure of your estate plan have become top of mind for plenty of individuals and American families in recent years. A recent survey found that two thirds of Americans stated that the pandemic has made them think about their own mortality and 7 in 10 respondents said they have reorganized at least one financial component of their life as a result.

These areas included employment situations, long term savings and investments, emergency savings and life insurance. Prior to the pandemic, only one third of Americans had a will in place. However, nearly 3 in 10 respondents to this survey said that they made changes to their estate plan during the pandemic, put it in place after the pandemic or are in the process of creating one in the near future. Reassessing these financial aspects of your life and making important financial decisions can make things easier for you and your loved ones in a time of crisis.

If you didn’t update your estate plan yet, the pandemic might be a good reminder that things can change in your life quickly. A sudden illness or accident could mean that you’re unable to speak for yourself. The loss of a spouse could make things difficult for your family when you’re trying to provide for children and navigate the legal complexities of a lack of estate planning.

For further information about the estate planning process, schedule a call with an estate planning law firm that has helped many individuals and families address these important questions.


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Is It Safe to Use a POA Form Found Online?

A simple Google search for a power of attorney in your state will present a variety of POA forms that can be found online. While it is certainly possible for you to fill out or print this documentation, it is ill advised to use for a variety of reasons.

A power of attorney should be created with your specific situation in mind. This is due to the fact that you are likely bestowing on your attorney in fact a great deal of power to make financial and care decisions on your behalf.

You should always have a power of attorney that is custom drafted by a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer so that it can be aligned specifically with your circumstances. Getting a power of attorney document downloaded for free or for a fee on the internet could expose you to using a document that:

  • Is too ambiguous to be interpreted or used properly
  • Lacks important authorities that the document should contain
  • Is not current based on the laws and rules of your area
  • Does not represent details of your unique situation
  • Fails to meet the legal requirements of your state

An ambiguous power of attorney is one of the most dangerous aspects of executing a document that is not in line with what you need and fails to accomplish your individual goals. Schedule a consultation with a lawyer who is familiar with POA documents so that you can craft a document specific to your family. Your MI estate planning lawyer is here to support you.



Still Life Of Power Of Attorney Document On Desk

If Your Child Just Went Off to College, They Need a Power of Attorney

This year, sending a child off to college probably looks like none other. But it’s still equally important to do the necessary planning to ensure you’ve protected them, as well as you, in the event that you are the person they choose to make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated.

As a parent, you won’t necessarily be able to step in and handle matters for them unless they legally authorize you to do so. This could include things like renewing their insurance policies, filing their tax returns, initiating a lawsuit on their behalf or accessing their bank account to pay bills.

This requires a power of attorney. A power of attorney is a document that allows another person to act as your agent and conduct business on your behalf. And yes, if you have an 18-year old college student in your family, you will need a power of attorney to handle these types of activities for them. There are many types of powers of attorney including a healthcare power of attorney and a financial power of attorney. A healthcare power of attorney appoints an agent to make medical decisions on behalf of the creator, whereas a financial power of attorney addresses more of the issues mentioned above.

If you do not have a power of attorney and become incapacitated, your loved ones would have to file for guardianship to handle your financial and legal affairs. This can be a very complicated and frustrating process and it is one that is easily avoided by scheduling a consultation with an estate planning lawyer in Plymouth, MI.