September 11

How to Protect Your Estate in Downriver, MI:  Will v. Trust

 

If you are fortunate enough to have thought far enough into the future to protect your estate in Michigan and have specific individuals in mind to inherit such estate, you’re probably now wondering whether you need a “Will” or a “Trust”.  Is there a difference, and if so, which one will serve your purpose?

Despite the fact that you’ve heard more about Wills over Trusts, Wills may not always be the best option, and ultimately you will need to consult a reliable lawyer in Downriver to determine which one is more beneficial.

What is a Will?

A Will, Testament or a “Last Will and Testament” is a legal document drafted by an individual specifying the method to be applied in the management or distribution of his/her estate after death.

This legal instrument allows the individual “testator” whose property (whether real or personal)  i.e. “estate” is in question to determine WHO and HOW his/her property will be disposed of after they have deceased without having the court choose who these individuals should be.

What is the Importance of a Will?

A Will serves various important purposes to testators and their family members or other beneficiaries:

  1. A Will allows the testator to choose which of his heirs, or other individual or family members, will benefit from the estate…WHEREAS failure to draft a Will allows the Michigan Probate Court to determine through “intestate succession laws” which heir shall benefit and in what capacity, even if the testator dislikes such heirs or had no familial relationship with them.
  2. A Will safeguards the testator’s right to choose who will serve as a legal guardian to his/her minor children in the event of death…WHEREAS a lack of a Will can place such children into foster care if no family member elects to legally adopt the children.
  3. A Will also allows for the election of an “executor” of the testator’s property who will mutually serve the interest of all beneficiaries of the Will fairly…WHEREAS a lack of a will serves for a court-appointed stranger to serve an administrator of the testator’s property.

 

  1. Michigan law allows for a Will to elect a trusted person to manage the money and other property left for your minor children to safeguard their futures.

What is a Trust?

A Trust is a legal document creating an arrangement where a person, “trustee”, to hold legal title to property for another, “beneficiary”, and to disseminate such property based on the chosen conditions.

A “Living Trust” also called an “Intervivos Trust” is simply a Trust created while you, the “grantor” are still alive and takes effects during the grantor’s lifetimes as opposed to upon death.

What Importance does a Trust Serve?

Different kinds of Trusts serve different purposes.  For example, a Living Trust serves to avoid probate court in specific situations, reduce estate taxes depending on the value of your estate, and to even help set up long-term property management.

There are numerous kinds of Trusts that the lawyers at Downriver Lawyer can advise you on to determine which best suits your needs:

  1. Revocable Trust- A Trust that can be amended during the grantor’s lifetime
  2. Irrevocable Trust- A Trust that cannot be amended
  3. Living Trust- A Trust created while the grantor is still alive and prevents property from being subject to probate
  4. Testamentary Trust- A Trust created as part of a Will which goes into effect when the grantor dies

 

The most common type of Trust and most beneficial to many resident of Downriver is the Living Trust.  This Trust allows for your estate to avoid adjudication in a Michigan court in order to pay off your debts and to distribute your property to those who will inherit it.  Probate court is a lengthy process that can be completely avoided in the MI court system through the creation of a Living Trust.   Through a Living Trust you will be able to quickly and efficiently distribute your estate to your chosen heirs and sometimes away from the reach of creditors.

 

While Michigan uses the Uniform Probate Code (UPC) which simplifies the probate process for small estates usually valued under $15,000, any estate above $15,000 will benefit from the creation of a Living Trust.

A Living Trust allows the property you want to transfer to be transferred to your beneficiaries within a matter of a few weeks as opposed to the lengthy process of probate court that can take months for resolution, allowing for you to avoid costly court and legal fees.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of a Living Trust is that the document itself is not a public record and therefore not searchable by creditors to try to seek judgment.  Your creditors will be unable to determine who has acquired your property, as opposed to a Will, which is a public record.  The only exception to this rule is the distribution of real property in a Trust; real estate is always a public record and this information is easily accessible to your creditors.

Will v. Trust

So which do you need? This is a conversation best left between you, your expert attorney at Downriver Lawyer, and your financial advisor.  Keep in mind that sometimes a Will is preferred over a Trust; a Trust over a Will, and sometimes both legal instruments will be required.

For example, to protect any property that did not make it into your Trust, you will also need a Will to ensure that it is properly distributed.  A Will also helps in allowing you to leave property to someone or an entity of your choosing who hasn’t been named in your Trust.  So don’t be so quick to choose one legal instrument over another without becoming knowledgeable on the two options.

Not everyone benefits from a Living Trust and decision between which instrument will likely serve your purpose is a complicated one.  Such decision should not be taken lightly, despite the fact that the Internet is rampant with automated Wills & Trusts forms that appear to simplify the procedure.

The Attorneys at Downriver Lawyer in Michigan have the understanding required to determine which instrument will better suit your needs.  There are also strict rules in the drafting of a Will that require expert opinion or else will be contested in probate court given the manner in which it was drafted; especially if there was the use of duress in the drafting of the document.   Our lawyers have been nominated to be the best at what they do, with the efficiency that is required in the drafting of these documents.  Knowledge is key, without it your estate that you have worked so hard to build in Michigan will be subject to arbitrary laws if you bypass the drafting of a Will or a Trust.

Don’t throw caution to the wind.  Contact our attorneys at Downriver Lawyer to receive the information your need to determine the best-suited legal instrument that will protect and distribute your assets to your liking and in your best interest.  Call us today at 734-619-1237 or make an appointment online at info@downriverlawyer.com.  We are easily accessible in Downriver, Michigan and we provide an array of legal services.  Visit our website at www.downriverlawyer.com and make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

August 19

Why a Michigan Real Estate Lawyer Will Benefit You in Your Real Estate Transaction – Downriver Lawyer, MI

Buying, selling and owning property in general is a huge investment of your money; and an investment that needs to be taken very seriously.  Whether you are investing thousands of dollars or millions of dollars in what will eventually become your “home”, your asset needs to be protected legally.

Typically, buyers and sellers only employ real estate agents to help them buy or sell their home.  While real estate agents provide an invaluable service in this respect, they are not permitted to provide you with legal advice, and obviously they are unable to provide you with legal protection should something go very wrong in your transaction.  Remember, a real estate agent simply acts to get the transaction completed; they are not there to consider the legal aspects and consequences involved in the transaction.

So in what way can a real estate attorney help you?  

It’s very simple.  In the first place, whether you are buying, selling or even leasing real estate property in Michigan, you will need an attorney to carefully examine and review the contract at hand.  Real Estate contracts are very technical and indicate what is permitted or not permitted to be done on the property, can be affected by zoning laws, and are subject to a different set of rules and procedures if the property has gone into foreclosure or the estate is in probate pursuant to the death of the owners. Even worse, Real Estates contracts are affected by creditors who are waiting in line pursuant to a lien that has been placed on the property, unbeknownst to you.

A MI lawyer with sufficient experience and expertise in the area of real estate transactions can help you tackle all such issues.  At Downriver Lawyer, we have been representing sellers, buyers, brokers, agents, lien-holders and creditors for years in a variety of real estate litigation matters and for contract reviews.  In representing a wide-array of clientele, we are knowledgeable in every aspect of the potential conflicts and issues that may arise from all corners of the contract, which has proven to be a huge asset to our clients.

What can a real estate attorney do that a real estate agent cannot?

All too often, real estate agents do not do legal research on the property to determine these very important issues, and when it comes down to the closing, the buyer and seller are unable to complete their transactions and you have lost hundreds if not thousands of dollars already!

Prior to the purchase of your property, specific legal research needs to be completed to ensure there are no liens, no foreclosures, not probate proceedings, no zoning ordinances that will affect the interest of the buying party and obviously, that the property is not distressed real estate or to determine whether there is an eminent domain that affects your property.  Furthermore, as the seller you need to determine what disclosures need to be made, and as the buyer you need to make sure all disclosures have been made to you in order to make a knowledgeable decision.  These are legal issues that only a lawyer can advise you on and protect you from.

But even if you have begun the process without the use of an attorney, remember that it is never too late to seek legal advice.  Even if you have started such a process without the guidance of a legal advisor, our lawyers at Downriver, MI are ready to jump in at any stage of the game to protect you in these matters and to ensure that you are successful and happy in the purchase or sale of your home.

Additionally, if you are entering into the purchase of a condominium instead of a house, there are additional aspects that you need to consider in your purchase of this property.  With the purchase of condos, there are also home association rules and regulations that affect your rights in your property.  This too, needs careful review, to ensure that you are not being limited in the enjoyment of your property.  Oftentimes, home associations limit your rights in the enjoyment of your property, and this is something that requires initial negotiations or will be considered waived once you have signed off on your purchase-sale agreements.

What do I do if I have already placed a down payment on my home, but I am now faced with a problem?

Consider this scenario.  You as the buyer have finally found your dream home in Michigan and have started negotiations with the seller’s real estate agent for the property.  After weeks of negotiations both parties have come to an agreement and the property is set to close in less than two weeks.  What needs to be done next?

Typically, you are required to open an escrow account, if not already provided for by the seller, where you deposit the down payment, which will really act as a security payment for the seller, and meet certain qualifications with the banker.

After you deposit the down payment, which is typically conditioned on certain factors occurring, but also typically forfeited if you waive your investigations rights and not encounter issues prior to the closing, you are one-step closer to completing the purchase.

Suddenly you are informed that unknown to the agent, the property has been in probate due to the death of the original title-holder.  What happens next?

Our attorneys at Downriver Lawyer have experience in representing buyers and sellers and handle the nitty-gritty requirements of these types of transactions.  If the property is in probate court, you as the buyer may not be able to complete this transaction and you may have forfeited a significant amount of your down payment, depending on your contract.  At this point, you need a MI lawyer to pursue a claim against the agent for failure of disclosure of such information.  Our Downriver attorneys have successfully handled the complexity of hundreds of these types of matters and obtained judgments in favor of our clients.

These are only some of the benefits that a lawyer in Michigan can ensure in the success of the purchase or sale of your home.  Downriver Lawyer aggressively and professionally obtains favorable results and practical solutions for every matter associated with real estate transactions that real estate agents are unable to tackle.

There is a huge difference between having a real estate agent and a real estate lawyer on your side.  To obtain  more information on our attorneys and our practice areas, please visit us at http://downriverlawyer.com/services/real-estate/ or call us at 734-619-1237 to set up your consultation.

In order for you to have a piece of mind in knowing that you are legally protected and that you understand the terms of your purchase-sale agreement in the State of Michigan and the laws and requirements that surround them, Downriver Lawyer is here to advise you and provide you with knowledge and efficient services.  Visit us on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Downriver-Lawyer/668014289938643?ref=br_tf   and follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/DownriverLawyer to stay up to date on all legal issues that affect you as a resident of Downriver, Michigan.

August 14

Do you need a Power of Attorney in Downriver, Michigan?

Sometimes there are certain documents or designations we need in our lives we have never needed before.  One such designation is a Power of Attorney.  A Power of Attorney is a special legal authorization given to an individual who has been granted the authority to act on someone’s behalf.  In some cases, you may be seeking a Power of Attorney to make important decisions for you if you foresee a time when you may not be able to (such as be admitted to a hospital for an extended period of time), or a loved one that has been deemed emotionally or physical incapable of doing so themselves.  By choosing a Power of Attorney, you are selecting a person to represent you in all types of situations involving cases pertaining to decisions related to healthcare, banking, and other key areas.  Due to the critical nature of the responsibilities given to such a designee, it is imperative to become educated on what steps you need to take to ensure you find the right person to fill this role.

Specialized legal designations require expertise

You may do a search for a DIY Power of Attorney online in an attempt to save money and time, however, that strategy may backfire.  There are several stipulations that must be met in order for this designation to be legal in a court of law.  Here are some important facts you should know:

Q.  What kinds of things is a Power of Attorney authorized to do?

A.  Depending on the written agreement, the designee can write checks, approve expenses, handle financial transactions including taxes, negotiate with creditors, consent to medical treatment of procedures you may undergo, confer with medical staff, and other duties as outlined.

Q.  How can I be assured my Power of Attorney document is official?

A.  The best way to do so is by hiring a law firm that specializes in drafting Power of Attorney agreements.  At Downriver Lawyer, our attorneys have decades of experience writing, executing, and enforcing these important documents.  We make sure the agreement is signed by all parties involved, that it is notarized and completely valid, and that it stipulates every pertinent detail including listing a time frame, if applicable.

 Q.  Why do I need an attorney to help me with a Power of Attorney?

A.   As an objective, third party, our team of attorneys at Downriver Lawyer have executed hundreds of official legal documents.  If you choose us to represent you, we will guide you through this complex process and protect you from individuals or companies that may try to prey on you during a vulnerable time in your life.  We guarantee we will provide you with the most confidential, professional services available, at an affordable cost.

Knowledge is power

If you live Downriver and need more information on Powers of Attorney, visit http://downriverlawyer.com/services/elder-law/

At Downriver Lawyer, we believe in educating our clients, not just representing them.  We want to be there for you every step of the way.  Over the years, we have earned a reputation for being diligent, thorough, and compassionate.  We understand you may be going through a difficult time if you need a Power of Attorney, and we are here for you.  Give us a call at 734-619-1237 to set up a free consultation.  To learn more about all of the legal services we offer, visit our website at www.downriverlawyer.com.

August 6

Child Support Lawyer-Downriver, Michigan

Obviously any marriage or partnership works best between compatible mates and complimentary personalities, but what happens when the relationship sours and these former uniform beliefs and compatibility are suddenly destroyed?  Well, as adults we learn to let go and move on, but what if there are children involved?  What happens then?  Who is going to be financially responsible for them and in what capacity?

That’s where child support laws come into play.  And whether you are the parent who will be responsible to pay child support, let’s call you the “payer”, or the parent who will be collecting, the “payee”, you need to have a full understanding of what child support is, how it fits in with child custody, how it can be obtained, how it is enforced, how you can protect yourself and your child, and how a MI family lawyer can provide you with assistance.

While some couples are able to amicably come to an agreement and arrangement for the financial support of their children, others are not so lucky.  In these instances, one parent will seek legal help from a family lawyer and the court system.  No matter what side of the coin you’re on, you will need an attorney who is well experienced in child support proceedings on your side to protect you and the best interest of your child.  Michigan family laws are strict in establishing child support payments and in enforcing them, so you need a trusted and experienced Michigan family law attorney to handle your matter.  That is why you will be relieved to have Downriver Lawyer on your side.

What is Child Support?

What is child support as defined in the legal system in MI?

Child support is money paid by a parent to meet the financial needs of his/her child, whether voluntarily or court ordered, in order to help with the costs related to raising that child after a divorce, legal separation, paternal determinations and/or custody cases.

Children are dependent on adults; at least until they are 18 years old, and require their parents’ financial support for a stable upbringing, whether or not both parents are involved in the child’s life.

Child custody payments, if court ordered, are calculated based on the parents’ income and typically terminate once the child reaches the age of 18, with a small caveat.   Sometimes such payments may be extended until the child reaches 19.5 years of age if that child is still in high school and living full-time with his/her parent, or in high school and living in an institution.  Regardless, it is in the child’s best interest that he/she receives the financial support that all children deserve

Too often people mistaken child support for a way for one parent to take revenge against another for a failed relationship.  However, the laws in MI and the court system ensure that neither parent is benefiting from the payment or lack of payment of child support, or using child support as a form of penalty pursuant to custody or visitation disputes.  After all, the theory behind child support is to protect and provide for the best interest of your child.

Why does the Payer have to pay child support?

If you are the “payer” in this scenario, you’re probably asking yourself why you have to pay child support if you have never lived with the child, or the child is currently living with the other parent and you have no custody or visitation rights.

If you’re the “payee” you are probably wondering if you can hold the other parent responsible for payment of your child’s financial needs even if you were never legally married to him/her, or he/she no longer has any contact with you, or you have a court order against him/her due to a visitation dispute.

Remember, the concept behind child support is not to punish, but rather to protect the child and provide for the child’s well being.  And that is how both parties should look at child support proceedings.  The attorneys at Downriver Lawyer have years of experience on both ends of the spectrum and ensure that this legal protection is not used frivolously by either party.

Children have a legal right to financial support from both parents.  Therefore, if a child resides with one parent who bears the daily financial burden of raising that child, the other parent needs to be equally responsible in their burden to also provide for their child.  In Michigan, the payer cannot evade the obligation of paying child support once a determination has been made by the MI Court system in child support proceedings, even if they give up their child custody rights or visitation rights or if the court takes their custody or visitation rights away for the protection of the child.

How does the Court in MI Calculate Child Support Payments?

Once the Court has determined that child support is required, the next step is to calculate the amount owed.  The Michigan Family Court uses a number of factors in determining the payment due for child support.

 

  • Both parents’ income:  The income of both parties will be calculated to determine who is better suited to provide for the child and in what capacity;
  • Custody arrangement and parenting time arrangements:  The Court will also determine how much time each parent spends with the child and the expenses involved for the care of that child during that time period;
  • Number of children supported: The Court also takes into consideration how many children will require support in determining the amount of payment;
  • Medical costs:  Depending on the child’s specific needs, medical costs are another consideration in determining support payments;
  • Other factors:  Other factors such as special needs of the child, or other financial burdens of the parents will be evaluated.

 

While the payer and the payee may independently come to an arrangement for child support payments, if your case has already gone through the Court system, Michigan Courts require notice of such agreements, and ultimately they will choose whether or not to accept the agreement between the parties.  In order to ensure that your arrangement with your partner will be accepted without additional burden set by the court, have our expert attorneys handle your court matter to save you the time and expenses associated with additional requirements imposed by the state of Michigan.

What if the Payer fails to pay?

Naturally, at some point, the payer will fail to make one or more payments as required by the court order.  It may be intentional, out of spite, or simply due to the loss of the payer’s job.  So what happens then?

When it comes to collection of child support payments, the state of Michigan has two agencies that jointly ensure the collection of such payments from the payer.  The Michigan State Disbursement Unit (“MiSDU”) and the Friend of the Court (“FOC”) work hand in hand to obtain payments to the payer and deliver it to the payee.

If there are obstacles in the continuous cooperation of the payer, these two agencies will step in and automatically withhold the payment amount directly from the payer’s paycheck.  But what if the payer is self-employed and there is no paycheck to withhold from?  Our lawyers in Downriver work closely with MiSDU in those instances to ensure direct payment from the payer to avoid any future penalties.

If you are the payee, you need a legal expert such as Downriver Lawyer on your side to ensure the payments that you rely on, without any interruption.  And if you are the payer, our lawyers will ensure that you will continue to abide by the court order so that you are not exposed to any harsh consequences.  The attorneys at Downriver Lawyer wear many hats and have a wide array of experience in protecting both parties, no matter what side you find yourself on

What if the Payer is Past-Due in Payments?

In instances where the payer is past due in payments, better know as “arrearages” the Michigan agencies will step in to enforce collection.  Some methods of collections used are:

  • Withholding of wages
  • Court Contempt Proceedings
  • Garnishment of tax refunds, State and Federal
  • Placement of liens on personal property
  • Suspension of driving, occupational or recreational licenses

If the payer is so far behind in payments, jail time may even be imposed along with hefty fines.  If you are the payer in this situation, consult with us today to ensure that this does not happen to you.  Our lawyers have earned a reputation for successfully negotiating these circumstances to avoid severe legal repercussions.  That is why Downriver Lawyer is rated with the highest level of satisfaction as Child Support Lawyers in MI.

Can Child Support be Modified?

Whether you’re the payer or the payee, this question will always linger in your mind.  Mismanaged child support from either party will always result in modification by one party, but can only be done by motioning the court.

Your child’s needs shift as he/she gets older or requires special or additional needs.  So do child support payments up to and until that child turns 19.5 years of age (as mentioned earlier).

The expertise of Downriver Lawyer can help you (the payer or the payee) modify these orders even after the MiSDU 36 monthly review and determinations.  You will need an attorney with experience and an understanding of the needs of your family and your ability to provide for them given your particular circumstances in order to petition the Michigan court to increase or decrease the set payments.

The attorneys at Downriver Lawyer have assisted in hundreds of cases to modify existing payments due to unemployment or a change in income earnings, the addition or loss of benefits, or new custody arrangements.  It is important to have an analytical set of eyes and the expertise that Downriver Lawyer has built its reputation on in determining how to better serve your needs and ability to provide for your child.  To get more information on family law and child support, visit http://downriverlawyer.com/services/family-law/

Remember, whether you are the payer or the payee, the legal team of experts at  Downriver Lawyer are there to provide you with a thorough consultation and an explanation of all of your rights, while providing a human approach to what at first may appear to be a huge obstacle.   The Downriver attorneys are well apprised of Michigan’s requirements on child support payments and have a strong reputation in working with both MiSDU and FOC in making for a smooth transition in a situation which oftentimes may not seem smooth given the fallout of the relationship between the couple.   To schedule your consultation, call 734-619-1237 or contact us at www.downriverlawyer.com.  Visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to stay current on important family law topics and all of your general legal rights.

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