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WHEN BIRTHDAYS STOP BEING ABOUT YOU THE IMPORTANCE OF GIFTING A LEGACY
April is my birthday month, and it always brings back fond memories of childhood. As I’ve grown older, my birthday has become less of a marquee event. These days, I look forward to the birthdays of my kids more than my own. My son, Ryan, was born in August, and he’s already telling me what he wants this year. At the very least, it gives me a long lead time to deliver something special. If Rochelle and I can make our kids’ birthdays anywhere close to as special as my parents made mine, we’ll be doing a good job. Every year, my parents took me to a steak dinner at Mountain Jack’s. The restaurant may no longer be standing, but I’ll never forget how excited I was to sit down to a prime rib and some sides. To this day, I still associate my birthday with a well-cooked (not well- done!) piece of beef. My most memorable birthday was when I turned 14. As usual, we had dinner at Mountain Jack’s. After putting down a salad, 24 ounces of prime rib, some grilled veggies, and mashed potatoes, my mom encouraged me to order another steak. I was a growing boy and took the challenge to heart. I managed to eat another prime rib and more mashed potatoes. It was as if I had created a Mountain Jack’s challenge all by myself.
Turns out, my mom had a secret reason for prompting me to eat 3 pounds of steak. She had planned a surprise party for me at the house, but I finished my meal too quickly for all the guests to arrive. Clever as she is, she realized that encouraging me to eat more food would keep us at the restaurant long enough for all the party prep to be completed. When I came home, I was full, and full of joy. Of course, birthdays aren’t all about parties and steak. They’re also a marker of growing older and time passing. As you grow older, it’s time to start thinking about the legacy you’ll leave long after you’re no longer around to celebrate your birthday. Gifts for yourself become less important than the gifts you’ll leave your loved ones and charitable organizations.
with minimal hassle. Imagine that you picked out the perfect gift for somebody, but mailed it to the wrong address. All your hard work and good intentions would end up going to waste. I’ve seen this happen far too many times with estates. And unlike mailing a gift, developing an estate plan is extremely complicated. You might think going to the post office is a pain, but I can assure you that’s nothing compared to dealing with probate. Whether you love your birthday or regard it as just another day, it’s a reminder that time marches on. Don’t let another birthday pass without thinking about your estate. We may not all enjoy growing older, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the passage of time as valuable as possible.
“If Rochelle and I can make our kids’ birthdays anywhere close to as special as my parents made mine, we’ll be doing a good job.”
– Christopher J. Berry
A comprehensive estate plan is the best way to ensure that those gifts end up in the right hands
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DON’T MISS OUT ON THE BENEFITS OF PETS
We tend to picture energetic dogs and cats thriving in young families with children, but animals are often happy to live with older, less active adults. These kinds of homes are especially suited to older animals that might otherwise have to spend their last days in the pound. Depending on your schedule and mobility, you might not want to adopt a large dog. But small lap dogs, cuddly cats, and even birds can make a great addition to your home. As long as you do not suffer from allergies, having a pet can be great for your health. The American Heart Association says pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, may be linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers found evidence to support this claim when they discovered that registered dog owners in Sweden had lower rates of cardiovascular disease and a lower risk of death than individuals without dogs. Physical fitness is far from the only benefit of pet ownership. The love and companionship our animal friends offer can alleviate depression or loneliness. Linda Anderson, founder of the Angel Animals Network in Minneapolis, says,
“Older pet owners have often told us how incredibly barren and lonely their lives were without their pet’s companionship, even when there were some downsides to owning an active pet.” Caring for a pet takes work, but for many people, the benefits greatly outweigh the challenges. An energetic dog encourages you to leave the house and go for walks, a talkative parrot makes time spent alone less lonely, and a soft cat curled up on your lap helps alleviate a stressful day. If you can’t have a pet in your home due to lease restrictions or mobility challenges, you don’t have to miss out on the benefits of being around animals. Consider volunteering at a local animal shelter. You can help care for cats, dogs, and other animals while they wait for their own forever home. There are thousands of pets in shelters across the country waiting for someone to care for them. If there’s room in your retirement plan, why not invite one into your home? You might discover both you and your new friend have something to gain. Every aspect of these stickers was carefully considered. “We asked survivors to create the messaging for the stickers so that they would speak directly to the people we are trying to help,” Marilyn notes. “They also have a number for the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, which is part of the Polaris Project.” The Livingston County Abolitionist Project has heard from the folks at Polaris that these stickers are being mentioned often. It may sound like a modest initiative, but it’s having a huge impact. In addition to the sticker campaign, the Livingston County Abolitionist Project provides resources and education for parents and teens about the dangers of human trafficking. An Elder Care Firm Client Making a Difference
SPOTLIGHT ON MARILYN GALVAN
Here at The Elder Care Firm, we’re lucky to serve a remarkable group of people. Marilyn Galvan is certainly one of them. We wanted to feature Marilyn in this newsletter not because of the work we’ve done for her, but because of the work she’s doing in our state. Her efforts are nothing short of remarkable, and we are proud to shine a light on her and the community group she is a part of.
After retiring, Marilyn began devoting her time to fighting human trafficking in Michigan. She heads the Livingston County Abolitionist Project and has done incredible work to get victims of trafficking the help they need. “We started with a simple idea,” Marilyn says. That idea was to place stickers on the insides of stall doors in Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) rest areas for victims to take and use to call for help. “We were allowed to run a test of the Rest Area Label Project in two locations around Brighton,” she notes. “Once people realized that our stickers were working, we were able to expand. I’m proud to say they’ll soon be in all 70 MDOT rest areas.”
“We may have started as a small community group, but we’ve grown into something formidable,” Marilyn states. If you’d like to help this incredible effort, we encourage you to visit stompslavery.org. We are honored to know Marilyn and are so grateful for all she has done to make our state a safer and better place.
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DEALING WITH A PROBATE HEADACHE?
Call Us ‘Executor Excedrin’
DEALING WITH FAMILY CONFLICT
At The Elder Care Firm, we specialize in helping people avoid the probate process for their estate. In many cases, however, somebody comes to us after they’ve been named executor of an estate already in the probate process. Sometimes they had no idea they would be executing an estate in the first place. When a tangled legal matter gets dumped in your lap, it’s understandable to be stressed. Here are some common struggles first-time executors often face.
There’s no asset or amount of money too small to create a rift among heirs. We’d all like to hope that our family will respect the wishes of the recently deceased, but that doesn’t always happen. Being an executor often turns you into the voice of reason when a family squabble arises. When you’re already dealing with the legal process, this added emotional stress can make the probate process feel insurmountable.
SECURING AND MANAGING ASSETS
THE LOOMING THREAT OF LIABILITY
When an executor isn’t aware they’ll be administering an estate, securing assets for distribution can be a chaotic process. Heirs may try to hold on to property they believe is rightfully theirs, regardless of what the legal documents say. In other instances, an executor may be tasked with managing a rental property or liquidating a business, neither of which are easy.
Whether you asked to be an executor or not, you can be held personally liable for actions taken — or inaction — while administering a probate estate. Delays, missteps, and errors can all result from the well-intentioned efforts of an inexperienced executor. If you’re dealing with any of these issues, an experienced probate attorney can help you ensure that you handle the probate process correctly. We’ve seen probate cases that would make your head spin, and we’re happy to help guide you through the process. Odds are, you already have enough to deal with.
UNDERSTANDING THE LAWS
It’s an understatement to say that Michigan estate law is complicated. Taking the right steps might involve passing certain assets through probate and avoiding the process with others. Parsing a pile of court documents can be overwhelming, especially when you have no experience with these rules and regulations.
Chris’ Paleo Corner:
GREEK CHICKEN AND VEGGIE SKEWERS
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Recipe inspired by ultimatepaleoguide.com
For us to be able to help family and friends just like you, we depend on referrals.
SKEWERS • 1 1/2 pounds
MARINADE • 1/2 cup olive oil • 2 lemons, juiced • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint • 1 teaspoon oregano • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a jar and
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shake until well-combined.
boneless chicken, cubed
2. Thread chicken and
vegetables onto skewers and lay in a shallow dish. Pour marinade over top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, turning occasionally.
• 1 pint cherry tomatoes
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• 1 red onion, cubed • 2 zucchini, cubed • 1 pint button mushrooms
3. When ready to cook, remove skewers from
fridge and heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium- high heat. 4. Grill skewers until chicken is cooked through and veggies are lightly charred.
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INSIDE This Issue
How Birthdays Relate to Estate Planning PAGE 1 Do Pets Fit Into Your Retirement Plan? PAGE 2 How Marilyn Galvan Is Helping Michiganders PAGE 2
How to Handle Probate Struggles PAGE 3 Greek Chicken and Veggie Skewers PAGE 3
The Origins of April Fools’ Day PAGE 4
The History of April Fools’ Day
Although April Fools’ Day has been celebrated for centuries by cultures around the world, the holiday’s origin is
became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. People placed paper fish on the backs of March celebrators to symbolize young, easily caught fish and referred to them as “poissons d’avril,” or “April fools.”
unclear. Historians point to a variety of possible beginnings, but the only solid conclusion is that the April Fools’ Day we know today is a blend of traditions.
Other historians have linked April Fools’ Day to the ancient Roman festival Hilaria, which was celebrated at the end of March. The festival honored Cybele, a mother of gods, and celebrations included parades, masquerades, and jokes to honor the vernal equinox, the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
THE GREGORIAN CALENDAR
Another origin story comes from Geoffrey Chaucer’s 1392 book, “The Canterbury Tales.” There are still questions about whether Chaucer really wrote the stories and whether they have any direct link to April Fools’ Day. In the book, Chaucer describes the date “32 March.” Some believe this was a joke, because March 32 doesn’t exist, but some medievalists insist it was a misprint. April Fools’ Day certainly has murky origins. Whether our traditions come from the Gregorian calendar switch, Hilaria, or even “The Canterbury Tales,” we can all enjoy our chance to let loose and play pranks on our friends and family at least one day each year.
In 1582, France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Some people were slow to get the news, and others failed to
recognize that the start of the year had moved from April 1 to Jan. 1. Those who celebrated during the last week of March
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