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Fowlerville Michigan Family Law Blog

Why is it important to update my estate plans?

One thing that many people in the Fowlerville area fail to take into consideration about their estate plans is updating them. Estate planning is not something that you do one time and never have to deal with again. As long as you are alive, you will experience events that affect your income, assets and family, such as the loss of employment, marriage, divorce, birth and death. 

If you do not revise your estate plans so they reflect your current financial picture and assets, your loved ones could end up not receiving the inheritances you thought you were leaving behind. Consider the following suggestions when looking at your estate plans. 

Should I sign a prenup before marriage?

Prenuptial agreements are becoming more popular and more widely accepted these days. Instead of being seen as a "scandalous" legal tool used by the 1 percent to safeguard their finances in cases of divorce, prenups are now seen as practical agreements that create terms and limitations related to a marriage.

More importantly, prenups could also make divorcing easier, faster and less stressful should it ever be necessary to dissolve one's marriage.

How can a will be contested?

If you have ever had to deal with the passing of a loved one in Michigan, then you probably had to deal with a will. In many cases, the will is read, the property and assets distributed and the estate is settled fairly easy. However, there are some times when someone is not happy with a will and wants to contest it. According to Consumer Reports, anyone who is in the will, who could inherit from an estate or who was mentioned in a previous draft of the document can contest a will

You must also have a valid reason to contest a will. If you believe the person who wrote the will was coerced or otherwise manipulated into changing the will or leaving certain assets to people, then you could object. If you are the person's spouse and have been left out of the will, then you have grounds. If you feel the person wrote the will when he or she was not in a coherent state of mind, then you could contest it.Finally, you may be able to contest if you are the person's child and you were left out of the will, but only in limited situations.

Most fathers say they spend too little time with their children

Although Michigan law promotes child custody and parenting arrangements that allow the children to spend lots of time with both parents, many fathers still feel they don't get a fair break. There may be some justice in those feelings, based on a comparison between how moms and dads report feeling.

The Pew Research Center just released a survey of American moms and dads. One question they asked was whether each parent felt they got to spend too little, just enough or too much time with their kids. Interestingly, the majority of dads -- 63 percent -- felt they spent too little time with their children. One percent or less said they spent too much time with them.

The definition and benefits of a holographic will

Regardless of a person's age, financial status or obligation to dependents, the decision to organize and articulate a will is one of the best decisions that anyone can make. A person's decision to invest in his or her future and create a meaningful plan for his or her heirs to follow in distributing property, assets and wealth is an excellent way to avoid tension following death. People in Michigan who are interested in finalizing a will may be faced with the task of deciding which method is going to work best for them. 

One type of will, a holographic will, is an interesting option for people to consider. According to Investopedia, a holographic will is one that is written by hand and signed by the testator with legal proof. In order for any holographic will to be recognized by the state, certain things are required including the following:

  • Proof that the person who wrote the will was mentally capable of doing so.
  • Proof that the signature on the will actually belongs to the person who wrote it.
  • Detailed instructions regarding how the person wishes for his or her property to be distributed following death.

Even new estate plans may need updating

With the new tax laws coming into effect this year, even recent estate plans may be out of date, particularly for high-net worth individuals and couples.

Many financial and estate planning strategies are now outdated, as the exemption for the size of estates has risen to $22 million for couples, up from $11 million prior to the passing of the new tax bill. But even couples with less than $22 million in assets may not need to bother with some common estate planning tools such as life insurance trusts or credit-bypass trusts, according to Reuters.com.

When court appointed guardians highlight issues with elder law

Many families choose to establish a guardianship to protect vulnerable individuals who are no longer able to care for themselves. Guardianships can help keep a minor child, aging adult, disabled loved one or incapacitated adult safe from abuse. A guardian can be appointed to manage another individual’s financial and health care matters.

Unfortunately, issues can and do arise when guardianships are established. Let’s take a look at some of those potential issues.

Will postnuptial agreement affect Matt Lauer's divorce?

In an explosion of revelations about sexual harassment involving famous and powerful men, perhaps one of the most shocking for many in Michigan was the revelation that NBC's "Today Show" host Matt Lauer had allegedly assaulted numerous women on the NBC staff. Overnight, Lauer was released from his multi-million dollar contract and fired from his job, even as more women came forward to accuse him of wrongdoing. Now, Lauer's wife, Annette Roque, is reportedly seeking a divorce, and many wonder how the couple's postnuptial agreement will affect the outcome.

Married nearly 20 years, Lauer and Roque have three children, ages 16, 13 and 11. Apparently, the couple had some difficulties in 2006 when Roque filed for divorce, claiming her husband behaved cruelly and inhumanely toward her. She withdrew the petition, and it is believed that the couple subsequently signed a postnuptial agreement.

Numerous fiduciaries are involved in estate administration

For those in Michigan with little experience in matters of estate planning, the terminology associated with it may be intimidating enough to repel some from investigating the benefits. Nevertheless, because planning one's estate is important, it is worth gaining an understanding of some of the most common terms involved. For example, a fiduciary is someone entrusted with interests of another person, such as someone's stockbroker or attorney. In estate planning, there may be numerous fiduciaries.

Perhaps the most familiar fiduciary is the estate executor, sometimes referred to as the personal representative. This is the person appointed to see the estate through probate, following the instructions a testator leaves in a will. If someone isn't specifically named by the deceased, the court appoints a person for these duties. An estate that involves trusts will likely have successor trustees to manage the trusts after the primary trustee dies or becomes incapacitated.

Criminal defense protects the rights of the accused

Police may spend a large portion of their time attending to drug-related activity in Michigan neighborhoods. Without question, the fight against dangerous and addictive substances is a difficult one, and law enforcement may feel overwhelmed at times. Out of zeal, poor training or unethical reasons, some officers may deny the rights of those they accuse of dealing drugs. This is why building a strong criminal defense is important for those facing drug-related charges.

On a recent Thursday, police officers arrested a man in a residential area sometime before 11 p.m. Authorities claim to have received a call complaining of a suspicious vehicle in the neighborhood. When police arrived, they discovered a 45-year-old man allegedly selling drugs. Police say the man was in possession of various quantities of methamphetamines, crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana. Reports did not disclose the exact amounts of these substances.

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