Our firm handles a variety of planning needs, from estate planning, special needs planning, and long term care planning to dispute resolution. We focus on and build plans around your life planning goals and needs.
Estate planning is the interrelationship between legal planning, financial planning, life planning, and resource planning. Estate plans will vary based on the individual’s values – both personal and family. How do you want to live? How will you pay to financially support your life plan? What legal planning documents are necessary to carry out your plan? Will public resources be necessary to accomplish your goals, either now or in the future?
Real estate has several issues to be considered when part of an estate plan. How is title currently held? How will it be transferred at death? Will the property taxes uncap when there is a transfer of ownership or will they be exempt from uncapping? How can I maintain my homestead exemption? Will my home be subject to Medicaid estate recovery?
Special needs planning is the person center planning process for your child with a disability. What are you and your child’s vision of a good life? How will it be accomplished? What resources are necessary to make it happen? Will you be relying on public and/or private benefits? Who will take care of your child if something happens to you and your spouse? It requires planning and management, and educating yourself regarding the available resources. Special Needs Trusts are an excellent tool for transferring assets to an individual with a disability while protecting their eligibility for government benefits. One must be aware of the interplay between tax law, probate law, Social Security Rules & Regulations, Medicaid Rules and Regulations, HUD guidelines, and CMH/DHS rules.
Elder and Adult Family Mediation is private, confidential, and voluntary. It is a helpful process when seniors face life transitions and are in conflict with their family members, typically their adult children. Issues like residence decisions, safety and health concerns, caregiving needs and responsibilities, and the costs associated with these decisions, create conflict within families.
Often times when communications break down and family conflicts arise, a “neutral” facilitator known as a mediator can assist the family in their decision-making process. The mediator has concern for the well-being of the elder and preserving the elder’s autonomy. It is a cooperative rather than adversarial process. Families can craft their own solutions to difficult problems and use the process to repair strained relationships.
Issues can vary from whether the elder says at home, moves to an assisted living facility, or to the home of a relative all the way to end-of-life and funeral/burial decisions.
Guardianship is a probate court process where either an individual on their own behalf or any person interested in the individuals welfare, may petition the court for a finding of incapacity and appointment of a guardian. The Court must find by clear and convincing evidence that the individual is an incapacitated individual and that the appointment is necessary as a means to provide continuing care and supervision of the incapacitated person, and that no other alternatives exist.
Conservatorship is a probate court process where the court may appoint an individual or a professional conservator to protect the individual’s estate (assets and property). The Court must find by clear and convincing evidence that the appointment of a conservator is necessary if the individual is unable to manage property and business affairs effectively and that without the appointment, the individual’s property will be wasted or dissipated unless proper management is provided or that protection is necessary to obtain or provide money for the individual’s support, care, and welfare. A finding of incapacity is not required.
Probate may be necessary, after the death of a loved one, to transfer the real estate and assets, either by Will or intestate, if there was no will or trust. It requires the filing of a petition and the appointment of a Personal Representative who may serve with or without posting a bond. The size of the total assets will determine what type of probate petition is filed.
Upon the death of the grantor of the trust, administration of the estate will involve tax issues, distribution issues, and successor trustee issues. Additionally, the terms of the trust must be followed.
VA Aid & Attendance provides financial assistance for war era veterans and their surviving spouse to help cover the high cost of medical and long term care at home, in assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, Adult Homes for the Aged, and Adult Care. There are asset requirements, service requirements, and must be analyzed on a case by case basis.
Long term care (LTC) is the highest expense facing seniors today. Medicare will pay up to 100 days of long term care at a skilled nursing facility if certain criteria is met. Most Long Term Care insurance policies will start paying after the 90 day elimination period, however, not everyone has LTC insurance. That leaves self-pay is you have sufficient assets & income, or Medicaid, if the individual meets the minimum level of care requirements and the income and asset tests. Michigan is required to allow the nursing home resident with a spouse living in the community to retain a certain amount of income for the support of the community spouse. These rules can be complicated and confusing.