Archive for the ‘Estate Planning’ Category

Ladybird Deed – Is it right for you?

Friday, October 5th, 2012

A Ladybird Deed is a legal document which allows you to transfer property to your heirs while retaining the life estate and the right to sell the property in your lifetime.  You, not your beneficiaries, own the property and there is no need to notify the beneficiaries if you decide to sell it.  It is not until your death that your heirs, or beneficiaries named on the deed, will be able to take the property.

The benefits of this is that the property is yours to do with as you wish.  You do not need the beneficiaries permission to sell the property during your lifetime.  You do not need to pay gift taxes, for transferring the remainder interest, because you have the right to cancel the remainder interest conveyed to the beneficiary.

Other benefits are avoiding probate, protection from creditors, no capital gains tax and flexible rights.  The Ladybird Deed helps in conveying the title without any probate at the time of your death.  The property is protected from your beneficiaries’ creditors during your lifetime.  Your beneficiaries have no interest in the property while you are alive and so their creditors cannot place a lien on it.  The beneficiaries inherit the property at the value of the property on the day when you pass away.  If the beneficiaries sell the house, there will be no capital gains tax.  Lastly, you have control over your property while you are alive.  You can sell or transfer the property as a gift.  You can take out a mortgage on the property.

Is a Ladybird Deed right for you?  Call us. We can help!

Todd Courser  810-245-0813

Durable Power of Attorney/Medical Power of Attorney- What’s the difference?

Monday, September 24th, 2012

The general power of attorney names an individual to act on your behalf handling your financial affairs. The document can either have the individual act if you are disabled or if you are not disabled. A medical power of attorney allows someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable. This document also states your wishes to have life support stopped in the event of a coma with no hope of recovery.

We can help you set up these important documents.
Call Todd Courser 810-245-0813

Lady Bird Deed/Enhanced Life Estate Deed- What are they?

Friday, September 21st, 2012

A Lady Bird Deed and an Enhanced Life Estate Deed are the same thing. These documents allow you to deed your home or other real estate to your beneficiaries now and reserve for yourself a life estate interest (i.e. the right to live in the home for the rest of your life). This helps your beneficiaries because the property does not go into probate when you pass away. Instead, the property passes directly to your beneficiaries without additional costs and administrative paperwork.

Is a Lady Bird Deed something that you need? We can help!

Call Todd Courser 810-245-0813.

Do you need a Revocable Living Trust?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

A Trust is a legal arrangement where assets are transferred to a Trustee to be used for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries.  The one who sets up the Trust is the Settlor or Grantor.  During the Settlor’s life the Settlor manages the Trust assets, no ownership rights are given up during his/her lifetime.  Following death or disability, a named Trustee takes over.  The advantages of a Trust are:

– avoids probate

– does not become public record, like a Will

– if the value of your estate is more than the amount excluded from federal estate tax, a trust may help reduce or eliminate estate taxes

– if you have minor children and something happens to you before the children become adults you can direct at what ages children are to receive assets (under Michigan law children are considered adults at the age of 18 and will receive any inherited property at that age, unless you direct otherwise)

– proper management of assets

– a Revocable Living Trust can be revoked or amended by you at any time

We can help you set up a Revocable Living Trust.

Call Todd Courser 810-245-0813.

Do You Need a Will?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Everyone needs their own Will.  A Will does the following:

– appoints a Personal Representative (someone who takes care of your final affairs)

– details who is to get your property

– if you have a “pour over” will, any property you neglected to put into your trust will be transferred into the trust

Without a Will, the state will determine how your property is to be distributed.  Need help planning your Will?  We can help!

Call Todd Courser 810-245-0813

Estate Plan – Personal Planning

Friday, September 14th, 2012

In order for your plans to run smoothly after you are gone, it is essential to provide a trusted family member or friend with some of your confidential information.  Someone should be aware of your valuable items and important documents that are hidden away for safekeeping.  This person should know the location of spare keys (marked with what they are for) and know your security codes.  Your will and durable powers of attorney should also be readily accessible to your executor.  Something often forgotten, is to find someone who will care for your animal(s).  This person should know where your pet’s records are and instructions for its upkeep.

Need help with your Estate Plan?  Call Todd Courser 810-245-0813

Estate Planning – Organizing Your Financial Records

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

If you have any of your financial records on a computer, you need to list which computer the information is on, how to get to it and any passwords that may be necessary.  The location of any information stored on a flash drive or on a disk, should also be listed with its location.

Create a list of all your financial accounts (investments, bank accounts, insurance policies, etc.).  Be sure to include account numbers and any other pertinent information that may be necessary.  Sometimes it may be necessary to know a Social Security number, driver’s license number, VA claim number, or birth date, when dealing with these accounts.  Make sure the person assigned to deal with your financial affairs, knows these facts and anything else, to get into your records.  Don’t forget to list information about your credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, etc.

Sometimes, safe deposit boxes are closed upon death and not opened until probate.  So be careful that copies of your will and other important documents are available outside of your safe deposit box.

Other valuable documents, whose locations should be known, are deeds, car titles, military records, birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees and your estate planning documents.

Seem a little overwhelming?  Afraid you’ll forget something?  We are experienced Estate Planners.  We can help.  Call us today!

Todd Courser 810-245-0813

Estate Planning – A Gift to Your Survivors

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Time spent now on your Estate Plan will help your loved ones to cope later.  It will also ensure that your wishes are carried out.  The easiest and most thorough way to tackle your Estate Plan is to consult with your legal, financial and tax advisors.  Some issues that they can help you with are:

  1. Making/Updating your Will – You determine what happens to your money, possessions and who becomes guardian of your minor children, when you pass away.
  2. Make a Living Will– If you become too ill to state your medical wishes, this document will speak for you.
  3. Create Durable Powers of Attorney – If you become incapacitated, this allows you to appoint someone to make decisions for you.  Two common types are one to deal with your financial and legal affairs and the second to deal with health care decisions.
  4. Calculate your net worth, including insurance proceeds– Talking to a tax or financial advisor can help you to minimize the impact of federal and state estate taxes.
  5. Establish a Trust – A legal entity that holds property designated by you for the benefit of you and your beneficiaries.
  6. Consider funeral Pre- Planning– Planning in advance, relieves your loved one’s stress later.  You can also make sure that your wishes are carried out.  If you are a military veteran and would like military honors at your service, finding out the process now, will ensure that it is done later.

Remember to keep loved ones and the executor of your will in the loop.  Spell out your funeral wishes, people to contact with phone numbers, and where important documents are kept.

Sound daunting?  We can help you through this!

Call today!  Todd Courser 810-245-0813

Estate planning, Medicaid Planning, and Elder Care – How does it all fit together?

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I have been involved in a small practice, in a small town, for my entire professional life.  I have watched my practice grow, change and age with my clients around me. I began to see a shift from estate planning to needs for guardianships and conservatorships and then to more and more elder care issues. My practice has nothing to do with criminal or divorce but has everything to do with money and money problems. So when clients have little to nothing, we seem to be the right place for their problems and when they have far more assets than they will need to make it through the end of their life, we seem to be the right place as well.

Elder care is a relatively new term and is really an area in its beginnings in the law. We have clients who are planning for senior care, clients who are dealing with the onset of senior conditions and clients who are already past the point of being able to plan. I have been there through client transitions, been a part of plans and have been asked to do clean up for situations inside of families, where sometimes the parents or elderly people were abused or taken advantage of by those who were entrusted to carry the burden for them.

If you are in this position, we can help.  Our process starts with a good team of people – legal, accounting, and investment.  Steps are laid out to create a well drafted estate plan.  Be careful:  Many clients do not want to pay for this step to be done well and later they are saddled with poorly drafted estate plans, which cause more headaches than help.  Once the estate plan is in place I always suggest that the client finalize  the funeral arrangements that will be needed.  Finally,  steps should be taken to understand if long term care insurance is appropriate and whether the client needs to go through the steps of reducing their estate for  possible medicaid planning or any taxes that will occur in an eventual estate transfer.

If you are in a position of needing estate planning, medicaid planning, or any other area of elder care, then please give my office a call and set up an appointment to discuss your situation, to put a plan in place to protect your loved ones.

Todd Courser 810-245-0813

What can I expect if I want to set up an estate plan?

Friday, July 6th, 2012

In my initial consultations, for any type of situation, I attempt to outline the way the process works.  I try to get a good idea of what situation the client is in at present.  Finally, I try to estimate or quote what I believe the cost will likely be.

With an estate plan, I will go through the steps to educate the clients on what will happen when they or their loved one passes away.  I will explain what happens if they have or don’t have a will.  I will explain what the benefits of a trust are and what the trust will and won’t do for them.  I will also go over the financial power of attorney and the medical power of attorney.  Finally, I will go over the process of the person who is selected to handle their end of life affairs and who will receive their assets when they pass away.  In most cases, at this point, I can quote what the cost will be to complete the estate plan.

After the initial consultation, if the client would like to proceed with the estate plan, they will pay for the project to be completed.  They will complete the estate planning questionnaire and return it to us.  A draft review appointment will be set.

In the draft review appointment, the clients will go over the estate plan and confirm the information.  If there needs to be any changes made, they will be noted.  Then the final signing appointment is set, where the estate plan is signed and the final steps are completed.

Call my office to set up your consultation today.  Todd Courser 810-245-0813