W hen my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, we found ourselves really thinking about the future. Our family had to think about everything from long-term care to my father’s estate. It was a lot. But it gave our family a perspective many of our clients have. In one form or another, the unknown is something people grapple with every day. They find themselves thinking about the future and their family and what comes next — but they aren’t always sure what needs to be done.
I’m a big believer in education. When a new client, or even a longtime client, comes in with questions, I want to sit down with them and make sure every single one of their questions is answered. Education is powerful; it allows you to make better decisions about your future and the future of your family and heirs.
We all want the best for our families after we’re gone. We want to know they are set up for success. Another lesson I’ve learned along the way is being able to understand family dynamics. Every member of a family may have different opinions on what “should” happen with the estate. I quickly learned how to manage all of these points of view.
So, they come to us, as many of you have in the past. I’ve been working in estate planning and elder law for almost 30 years now, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. Some of these lessons were instilled by my father and mother, and some I learned simply working one-on-one with clients and their families.
Sometimes it can be like putting together a puzzle, but it’s a puzzle that is always worth putting together. Planning for the future makes a difference. This became even more apparent when my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. We had to take steps to plan and create the opportunity to sit down and talk about it as a family. And we were better for it. So many people aren’t given this kind of opportunity. When a family member has a stroke, heart attack, or is involved in a car accident with no plan in place, the family can be left with no idea what to do next. They may also soon find themselves trying to navigate a legal maze with seemingly no way out.
One of the biggest lessons, of course, is treating people how you want to be treated. It’s a simple lesson, but it’s often taken for granted. Everyone who walks through our door is a member of the family. I never wanted my law firm to be another one of those
“One of the biggest lessons, of course, is treating people howyou want to be treated. It’s a simple lesson, but it’s often taken for granted.”
stuffy law offices, and a lot of that comes down to how you treat people. We’re all on the same level.
I don’t want anyone to be in that position. There is always a way out. Planning and working with an estate professional gives you what you need to navigate the maze. You know which corners to turn and paths to follow so you can get to the end unscathed. Estate planning isn’t the easiest thing to talk about or plan, but it can save you and your family a lot of trouble and a lot of money later on. I’ll be tackling various estate planning topics in the months ahead, so keep an eye out for more editions of this newsletter. We’ll also have a little fun along the way! I hope you and your family are having a great summer, and we’ll talk again soon!
And I say we’re all on the same level because estate planning, elder law, and veterans benefits come with plenty of jargon and fine print that isn’t always easy to understand. No one likes to read through legalese or pages of IRS codes. We do that so you don’t have to, and then we translate it to something everyone can understand. That way, you know exactly what is going on and you don’t have to rely on guesswork and hope you get it right.
—Glenn Matecun 1
MichiganEstatePlans.com • 888.487.6150
Insomniacs Unite 3 Free Apps to Help You Catch Those Z’s
Everyone with a smartphone has heard time and time again that looking at your phone before bed is a bad idea. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “The use of electronic devices in the bedroom further disrupts the natural pattern of the sleep-wake cycle” primarily bec ause of the blue light emitted from the screen. While most scientific data pertaining to sleep recommends you place your phone in another room overnight, those who toss and turn regardless of phone location might benefit from using technology rather than tucking it away. Here are three FREE sleep apps that might help you get to dreamland faster. Pzizz
Pzizz combines music, sound effects, and binaural beats, and an embedded algorithm generates a slightly different track each time you use it. Snore Report Many troubled sleepers who are able to fall asleep are jolted awake shortly afterward. The inability to stay asleep throughout the night can stem from a multitude of factors, but snoring tends to be the most common. The Snore Report app records through the night to detect any snoring sounds and then provides the user with an overview of the previous night’s recording, including an index to determine snore intensity. Using this app might not help you fall asleep faster, but it could offer helpful information about why you aren’t able to stay asleep. Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock Instead of setting an alarm to jolt you out of sleep at a specific time, choose a window of time to wake up with the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock. The app will sense your sleep movements and ring an alarm when you’re in the lightest stage of sleep. This way, you’ll wake at the optimal time, feeling refreshed rather than groggy.
While there are many apps that claim to help people fall asleep quicker, very few are programmed to prevent sleepers from
growing bored of the same monotonous soundtracks.
Developing an estate plan is a crucial part of preparing for the future. But it’s not just your future you’re planning for; it’s the future of your family, your legacy, and beyond. Unfortunately for many families, estate planning is often something that gets sidelined. People don’t want to have frank discussions about the future, including conversations about money and death. These conversations aren’t fun, but they are necessary. While you may have an idea of how you want to pass your wealth and assets to the next generation, it needs to be in writing and legally verified. When the future of your estate isn’t clearly defined, it can lead to serious legal complications, not to mention heartbreak and stress for family members and heirs. You’re in control. Even when you’re gone, your wishes live on. You can choose heirs, as well as charities, and direct exactly where your wealth and assets go. This often includes setting up trusts to take care of or ease the educational expenses for future generations. You can appoint a trusted personal representative or trustee. You know who you trust and who is capable of handling your wealth when you cannot. When you appoint a personal representative or a trustee, you’ll know your When you have an estate plan, you set the stage.
wishes will be carried out to the letter. If you do not have an estate plan, and no personal representative or trustee is named, a judge will appoint someone to handle the process, and it may be someone you do not want handling your estate. Your heirs avoid probate.
When a written will or trust is not in place, it may enter probate. This process can cause all kinds of headaches for your heirs — including fees, extra paperwork, delays, and possible court appearances. Having a legally sound plan in place can help you avoid the probate process altogether and makes the process significantly easier. Your heirs avoid tax surprises. While your heirs may still have to deal with some taxes on an inheritance, the right planning can help them avoid paying excessive taxes. This includes estate taxes or income tax. When it comes down to it, it’s vital to have the estate planning conversation with your family and an estate planning professional. Get the details in writing, and set yourself and your heirs up for future financial success.
MichiganEstatePlans.com • 888.487.6150
Are Your Heirs Ready for Your Collectibles?
Solution on Pg. 4
Many people invest in collectibles. Sometimes it’s an intentional investment; other times, the collection accrues simply from the love of collecting. And sometimes, people come into a collection as part of an inheritance without even realizing it has additional value. Interestingly enough, the collectibles market can be just as volatile as any financial market. In one report, AARP looked at collectibles that continue to rise in value. Here are a few of them. Coins Many people enjoy collecting coins from various time periods, as well as coins made from precious metals. Generally speaking, coins and currency reliably retain their value. Of course, it depends on what coins you collect. The AARP report noted that coins from the 19th century and prior have been increasing in value. Additionally, if you collect silver or gold coins, you will, at minimum, be guaranteed the market price of the metal. Toys Have any pristine Barbie dolls, G.I. Joes, or diecast vehicles in your home dated to the ’50s and ’60s? If so, you may be sitting on a gold mine. The better condition they are in, the higher their value. In some cases, having the original packaging can send those values skyrocketing. Thanks to the power of nostalgia, there is a huge market for vintage toys of all kinds. Even pristine toys from the ’80s and ’90s can fetch remarkable prices at auction and in private sales. Posters In this case, we’re talking about movie posters. According to John Brigandi of Brigandi Coins & Collectibles, movie posters dated pre-1990 can be worth quite a bit. If you browse eBay for posters of your favorite movies, like the original “Star Wars” or Sean Connery’s “James Bond,” you can see for yourself. These are posters that haven’t been in print for decades (though there are reprints out there, so beware). It’s getting more difficult to find classic movie posters that are in good condition. Ultimately, it’s all about knowing what you have. If you’re preparing a will or estate plan, it’s important to make sure your heirs know what they are getting. While collections often mean the most to the original collector, pairing the collection with a story or a brief history can ensure that meaning passes along with the collection.
Helpful Resources • Is your estate plan up-to-date? Ask us about our FREE estate planning checkup ... Call our office or email Julie@mtolaw.com. • Don’t miss our upcoming estate planning and elder law workshops — our website has our entire educational calendar for the year.
• Learn about estate planning and elder law topics in plain English ... Check out our Elder Care Whiteboard Videos at MichiganEstatePlans.com.
• Let us be your trusted advisor for all your legal matters. We have grown by the referrals we receive from our clients. We want to return the favor by helping you find a great attorney outside the field
of estate planning, elder law, and probate. Instead of taking your chances on Google or the phone book, let us put you in touch with an experienced attorney that can help
you. Our clients often call us in need of an attorney who focuses on family law, personal injury, auto accidents, elder and nursing home abuse, workers’ comp, Social Security disability, and many other areas. To get the best results, you need an experienced attorney to help. If you want a referral, call our office or email Julie@ mtolaw.com. We are glad to help!
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What’s Inside? 1 2 Lessons in Law and Life
3 Free Apps to Help You Catch Those Z’s Have You Talked to Your Family About Your Estate Plan? Are Your Heirs Ready for Your Collectibles?
Helpful Resources for You!
Did You Hear About the Dog Food Burglar?
H ave you heard the story of Terrence Pennsylvania. One day, after breaking into a house and helping himself to some valuables, Dickson decided to leave through the garage. After discovering the automatic garage door was stuck closed, Dickson turned around and was horrified to realize he’d locked himself inside. To make matters worse, the family he was stealing from had just left for an extended vacation, so Dickson lived off of soda and dried dog food for eight days. When the family returned and found the unlucky burglar, a lawsuit was filed — by Dickson! He sued for mental anguish, and the jury awarded him $500,000. There’s nothing that shakes our faith in the justice system quite like injustice being served. When Dickson’s story first gained notoriety in 2001, thanks to an email circulated How Can a Thief Sue the Family He Robbed? Dickson? Even if you don’t know the name, you might have heard his strange tale. Dickson was a burglar in Bucks County,
by the now-defunct Stella Awards newsletter, which highlighted “outrageous lawsuits,” people were rightfully enraged. There was just one problem: Terrence Dickson never existed. In 2002, a reporter from Pennsylvania contacted the Bucks County prothonotary’s office, where all records for civil cases in the county are kept. He discovered there was no record of any cases involving such a burglar . It’s worth noting the original email where this story first appeared ended with a call for tort reform from a made-up law firm in Ohio. Likely, this hoax was an attempt to manipulate the public perception of the justice system. Despite being debunked 17 years ago, this tall tale still makes the rounds and often appears on lists of “outrageous lawsuits,” many of which are featured on the websites of legitimate law firms! There are plenty of wacky legal cases, but when a story is too ridiculous, there’s a good chance a few important details are being left out or the readers are being lied to. Don’t believe everything you read online!
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