When it comes to estate planning, talking about wills, or long-term care planning, a lot of people have reservations, or even fears, about their future. One common fear among older folks is planning for the future only to run out of money. This comes up a lot in regard to long-term care planning. But the biggest fear of all is the fear of uncertainty. If you don’t have an estate plan at all, that can create a lot of uncertainty, not just for yourself but also for your family. What stops people from drafting an estate plan?
their questions and concerns are taken care of. This is one of the primary reasons we provide a free estate plan review. We want to help you make sure your plan is up-to-date and reflects your current financial situation. We’ve seen folks who haven’t had a plan reviewed in over 20 years. Think about where you were 20 years ago versus where you are now. So much can change in 20 years, from your family to your health to your overall living circumstances.
There are many factors, including not wanting to have a conversation about the future or a fear of working with lawyers. And that’s true! For some people, the idea of working with a lawyer is a tough pill to swallow. Some people are intimidated by attorneys; some people simply don’t like them. As a result, they put off the estate plan, which can lead to a major headache for the family and heirs later on.
In fact, we consider keeping your estate plan up-to-date so important that we recently started a new program for our existing clients: an annual estate plan checkup. It’s just another way to make sure the terms of your plan are correct — and that you are fully aware of those terms.
As intimidating as it can be to develop an estate plan, it doesn’t have to be scary — and certainly not when you have a planning professional on your side.
“Abig part of what we do is curb these fears so our clients and their families can rest easy ...”
Of course, even people with estate plans can find themselves facing uncertainty. We see people who’ve created an estate plan but had no idea how it worked or simply never read it. They had it drafted and signed without getting
P.S. I want to tell you about a new workshop series we are kicking off. It’s called Wednesday Workshops. These workshops will be held twice a month (check our website for exact dates) and are designed for anyone who may have questions about estate planning or elder law, or is looking to establish or update a plan. Wednesday Workshops go over the basics of estate planning as well as asset protection for long-term care. If you know anyone who can benefit from a workshop like this, they are more than welcome to join! In addition to these community-focused workshops, we also have several special “client-only” workshops planned.
the details they really needed to make major decisions about their future.
There is also uncertainty when it comes the legal specifics of an estate plan, like how it’s influenced by new tax laws or the overall tax environment. Laws are updated, phased out, or phased in, and this has the potential to alter an estate plan.
We will be diving into more in-depth topics regarding your estate plan. Look for exact dates soon!
A big part of what we do is curb these fears so our clients and their families can rest easy knowing
MichiganEstatePlans.com • 888.487.6150
Don’t Let Money Get in the Way Of Your Grandchild’s Education
College expenses aren’t what they used to be. What used to be affordable to any student with a part-time summer job now can take years to pay off. If your grandkids want to go to college, the cost of education should not be a barrier to their future. Luckily there are ways that you can help ease that financial burden. Invest in a 529 savings plan. There are no limits on age, income, or monetary contributions attached to this college savings account. Just like a Roth IRA, the earnings grow over time and can be used tax-free for qualifying expenses, like tuition and room and board. There are a few downsides, however. Funds from a grandparent’s 529 savings plan are considered student income and could hurt your student’s eligibility for financial aid. If you choose to fund through a parent’s 529 savings plan, which doesn’t count as student income, you lose control over the funds you contribute. Pay their tuition. Not everybody has $20,000 just lying around, but if you do, using it to pay for your grandchild’s tuition isn’t a bad way to spend it. Normally, annual financial gifts that are exempt from the
federal gift tax can’t exceed $15,000, but payments toward someone’s tuition, for any amount, can exceed this annual exclusion. Keep in mind, however, that the money can only go
toward tuition, not toward other college expenses like room and board or textbooks.
Help them find opportunities to save. Even if you don’t have thousands of dollars to give, you can still help your grandkids look for other opportunities to save. There are thousands of available scholarships, grants, and programs to help students pay for college, and helping them look online and in your community can go a long way. College could be your grandchild’s first stop on the path to achieving their dreams. You can be a part of that journey by making sure money doesn’t get in the way of that.
It’s a Serious Problem and Here’s What You Can Do About It Financial elder abuse is a major issue that’s not often discussed, publicly or privately. It’s a subject that’s easy to sweep under the rug. However, over the past several years, the subject of financial elder abuse has been making more and more headlines.
This is particularly true when family is involved. The reason? No one wants to cause rifts in the family. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, upward of 90% of those who take financial advantage of the elderly are known acquaintances, such as family, friends, neighbors, and caretakers. What can you do to protect yourself, your family, and your estate? When you are still of sound mind, that is the best time to plan for power of attorney, as well as how to handle health care matters in the future. You want to make everything as clear as possible. For folks with aging parents, be sure to keep in regular contact with them through regular visits or phone calls. Ask them about their friends and the people they associate with, including caregivers and neighbors. This isn’t about being suspicious; it’s about knowing who is a part of your parents’ lives. Never sign anything that you don’t have a clear understanding of, such as financial documents. Always ask for clarification or have someone you trust go over the details with you to make sure it is truly in your best interest or the best interest of your heirs.
One high-profile legal battle centered on the late Stan
Lee, one of the biggest names behind Marvel Comics. In the years
leading up to his death in 2018, Lee was sitting on an estate worth millions of dollars. Lee went public, alleging that an acquaintance and memorabilia collector had made attempts to take over his estate.
It was a legal battle that outlived Lee. In May 2019, Lee’s former business manager was charged with five counts of abuse. While Lee did what he could to fight to save his estate from this unsavory business manager, many others aren’t as able or willing.
MichiganEstatePlans.com • 888.487.6150
Things to Know Before Getting a Pet Considering Kitty
Solution on Pg. 4
In the daily lives of seniors, pets often go beyond being much-needed companions. Whether it’s a cat or a dog or something a little different, they help seniors feel safer, and they reduce that feeling of being lonely. Many pets also have a positive impact on the health of seniors by lowering blood pressure and providing a calming presence. Simply put, pets are wonderful to have around! The challenge comes with finding the right one. For many seniors, it’s generally a good idea to find a pet that’s not high- energy or high-maintenance. You don’t want a companion running around or needing constant attention while exhausting you day in and day out. These are things that have the potential to be trouble for both the pet and the person. It’s best to look for a pet that fits right in with your lifestyle, whether you’re an active senior or have limited mobility. Many pets are low maintenance and don’t require a lot of activity. Some of the best choices include small dogs, cats, and birds. Anyone considering a small dog will appreciate their intelligence and loyalty. Some small dog breeds are more active and energetic than others, but in the right environment, it shouldn’t be a problem. Of course, there are plenty of lap dogs that are low energy, such as basset hounds, Boston terriers, bulldogs, pugs, and Shih Tzus. Cats, on the other hand, tend to be more relaxed than dogs. Your typical house cat won’t usually require much maintenance outside of daily feeding, litter box cleaning, and the occasional cuddle. Cats tend to be ideal for those wanting a pet to “hang around,” rather than a more active companion — though there are breeds that are active and attentive, like the Abyssinian or Siamese. If you’d rather not deal with the responsibility of a dog or cat, consider a bird. Birds, such as canaries, parakeets, and zebra finches, are relatively simple to care for, requiring minimal cleanup and are easy to feed and water. Some birds tend to be a bit more talkative than others, so be sure to choose a bird that isn’t going to end up being an annoyance.
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 who
In the search for the “just right” pet, be sure to consider visiting a shelter. Many pets up for adoption have established personalities, so seniors can spend time with different animals to see if they’ll be a good fit or not. After all, you don’t want to get home and find out Fido is too energetic! Take the time to find the right one. Your new companion may be around a while, so it’s best to find the home where your furry friend will get all the love it deserves!
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!
MichiganEstatePlans.com • 888.487.6150
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MichiganEstatePlans.com • 888.487.6150 915 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 6 Howell, Michigan 48843
What’s Inside? 1 2 3 Strategies for Helping Grandkids Pay for College
Overcoming the Fears of Estate Planning
Financial Elder Abuse Is a Problem — What You Can Do Seniors and Pets: Finding the Right One
Helpful Resources for You!
Amazing Cat Tales
Mythical Cats of the World
Most owners will tell you their cats act like ancient deities. Majestic, scrupulous, and utterly unpredictable, these fascinating creatures have long captured our imaginations. Even before cat videos took the internet by storm, humans have been idolizing felines, placing them alongside some of their most important mythological figures. Bastet — Egypt Of course, a list of mythical cats has to start with Egypt. While many people know the pharaohs and their followers thought cats were sacred, you may be surprised by how deep the connection goes. The earliest depiction of Bastet, the feline deity of protection, is a lion-headed woman in battle. But, over the course of 2,000 years, Bastet evolved to resemble the domesticated, pointy-eared cats we know and love today. 招き猫 (Maneki-Neko) — Japan Legend has it that in the 17th century, a monk living in a small temple in Edo (now Tokyo) was struggling to
survive, but he still split his meals with his cat, Tama. One
day, Lord Nakaota li got caught in a rainstorm while hunting and took shelter under a tree near the temple. Nakaota spotted Tama near the temple, and the cat raised its leg, beckoning the noble
to come toward him. Curious, Nakaota complied, stepping out from beneath the tree just before a bolt of lightning struck it down. The lord’s life was saved, and to this day, the Maneki-Neko (the beckoning cat) is a symbol of wealth and good fortune. Freya’s Skogkatts — Norway In Norse folklore, the goddess Freya had a unique means of travel: a chariot pulled by two cats. These were skogkatts, or Norwegian Forest cats, that were only a little larger than your average house cat. Still, these small felines towed Freya around battlefields as she gathered warriors to send to Valhalla. On top of being the goddess of war, love affairs, and magic, Freya may well have been Midgard’s first cat lady.
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