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Fowlerville Michigan Family Law Blog

How can I choose a good executor for my estate?

Designating a person to be the executor of your Michigan estate is a crucial decision, and while the good news is that you can choose almost anyone to be your executor, you still have to narrow down your choices according to important qualities that make a good executor. These characteristics will help ensure that your executor is both competent and ethically sound enough to take on the job of guiding your estate after you pass on.

First, as Farm Bureau Financial Services points out, your executor should make time to perform the duties of the office. Since going through probate or wrapping up the affairs of an estate may take almost a year to finish, your executor cannot be tied down to obligations that could make it difficult, if not impossible, to handle the job. Executor tasks can range from letting beneficiaries know about your wishes, to inventorying your assets, to even putting up a defense of your will in court.

What are some tips for dividing the family farm?

When you own your own business in Michigan, it can make estate planning more difficult. Things may get even tougher if you own a farm. Dividing the family farm can be a very sensitive issue to broach with your loved ones because everyone has a stake in what happens with it. So, as you start your estate planning, here are some tips to keep in mind from NorthernAg.

Make sure that you understand the ownership of your farm. The law may change what your will says upon your death. For example, if you have put your children's names on the deed to the farm, then that takes precedence and they will get the farm when you die even if you wanted it to go to your grandchildren instead.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

Marriage offers a couple a lot of advantages, but it also involves a big commitment and a lot of legal and social implications. Some couples in Michigan do not wish to enter into marriage, perhaps because of personal beliefs or because doing so would be economically disadvantageous. If you and your partner fall into this category but would still like to delineate rights, responsibilities and financial obligations to one another through legal means, you have the option of entering into a cohabitation agreement.

According to FindLaw, a cohabitation agreement may be either express or implied, oral or written, but it is easier for the court to make decisions about a written agreement if need be. Essentially, a cohabitation agreement is a contract between two people who wish to live together that defines the obligations and rights that each partner owes to the other. 

New baby? Remember to set up a guardianship in your estate plan

Having a new baby dramatically changes your life. You now have a tiny human who depends on you for everything. Meeting those needs can be a challenge sometimes. While you might not think that you can add anything else added to your schedule right now, there is one very important consideration you need to remember. You need to get an estate plan set up.

You might think that you don't need to worry about this now since you are young, but the truth is that you never what is going to happen or when. Getting your estate plan together now can help to protect your bundle of joy if something happens to you.

What is a living will?

The term “living will” is actually not a will in the way people in Michigan understand it. Wills go into effect after a person passes away. However, as FindLaw explains, people often choose to compose living wills to handle their medical treatment in case they are unable to make decisions for themselves. Usually, a living will is intended to address treatment issues in cases of permanent unconsciousness or a terminal state.

It is common to assume living wills are employed primarily to withhold treatment in the event the person is a vegetable state and stands no hope of recovery. Some people do not want to go on living in such a manner and prefer to die naturally. However, living wills can also instruct doctors to continue treatment to try and save a person’s life even if the person is in a degraded state.

Hidden victims of domestic violence

No one deserves abuse from a domestic partner. No one has the right to abuse someone else. There are no exceptions. Yet some victims of domestic violence in Michigan go unrecognized because they do not fit the paradigm of what society expects a domestic violence victim to look like. According to the Mayo Clinic, men and women alike may be victims of intimate partner violence, and domestic abuse can occur in same-sex relationships as well as heterosexual relationships.

It can sometimes be difficult for these hidden victims to recognize their partners as the abuser in the relationship. An abusive partner may manipulate the victim by framing defensive or retaliatory actions as the real abuse, claiming to the victim that he had it coming or he is responsible for the behavior by provoking the abuser. Men who believe that domestic violence is always male-on-female may be more likely to internalize this manipulation.

What is generally required in your adoption home study?

Whether you have struggled with infertility or have been able to have children, but are still interested in adoption, deciding to adopt children in Michigan can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Preparing yourself, your family and your home for bringing another child into your circle will take time, commitment and patience. 

One of the critical aspects of preparing for adoption is participating in a home study where you will disclose information that will help placement agencies to identify whether or not your home and family will be suitable for the healthy upbringing of children awaiting adoption. According to babycenter.com, your home study will most likely include a report that includes a variety of information, as well as an actual visit by designated professionals. This process can take anywhere between 3-6 months depending on who you choose to use. 

How do I know if a will was composed under undue influence?

Some Michigan residents may look at a will composed by a parent or an elderly relative and believe something is not right about it. Perhaps the will cuts a family member out of the inheritance or specifies that someone outside the family, somebody you are not familiar with, will get a large share of the assets. If a will seems suspicious to you, there is the possibility that the will was composed under undue influence.

Undue influence, as the Huffington Post explains, consists of any number of methods to inappropriately influence a person to perform actions that the person would never do under normal circumstances. The purpose of the influence is often to enrich a manipulator at the expense of another person. In the case of a last will and testament, a person would exercise undue influence to gain wealth and property from the testor.

Child custody situations are sometimes complex

Child custody arrangements are set based on the children's needs. For some situations, a set parenting time schedule isn't going to work. These include circumstances like the parents having varying schedules at work or a long-distance arrangement.

When these cases occur, both parents have to be willing to compromise and work together to ensure that the children get what they need. This includes being able to spend time with both parents. Here are some points to remember when you are trying to find a creative solution to a challenging custody situation:

How can I stop conflicts between my heirs?

While creating an estate plan is crucial, having a will or trust in place is really just the beginning of the process. With some families, heirs come into conflict about the decisions made by the deceased, which can incur both time and money when it comes to legal battles. While you can’t always prevent conflicts from occurring, Kiplinger offers the following advice.

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