Attorney & Mediator
Attorney & Mediator

Your Kids Are Turning 18, What Steps Should You (They) Take?

When your children turn 18, are there any steps that you should take or have them take? Yes! They are no longer minors and you do not legally have the authority or the ability to assist them at critical times.

Power of Attorney. Have them sign a Power of Attorney that gives you the right to do business and banking for them. They may think that this is an erosion of their power – since they are now adults. It is no more so than when you sign a Power of Attorney.

Why is this necessary? You, as the parent of an 18 year old, do not have the right to discuss their tuition (even though you write the checks) with the college they attend, their medical insurance coverage (even though you write the checks) or other insurances such as automobile insurance (even though you may write the checks).

They are accustomed to you assisting them with many of these issues but you may run into a roadblock with many companies unable or unwilling to discuss their issues with you. A Power of Attorney will give you the authority to handle these type of matters on their behalf.

Medical Power of Attorney. This is a necessity. When your child turns 18, you no longer have any access to his/her medical information and are not permitted, even in an emergency, to assist with direction of their medical care. It is prohibited by law.

Therefore, if your son or daughter were very ill, or in an accident, you would be notified by the first responders or the hospital. When you got there, however, you would only be able to look at them. The hospital and staff would not give you any medical information whatsoever.

Worse, there would be no one to direct their medical care and assist them by making critical medical decisions on their behalf.

If they sign a Medical Power of Attorney, also known as The Five Wishes, Patient Advocate Designation or Living Will, appointing you as their advocate if they were unable to make and communicate informed medical decisions, you would be able to act in times of emergency.

Again, this doesn’t take any power away from them. If they are able to speak and communicate, they will be in charge of their own medical decision making. If they need help, however, you will be armed with the paperwork that you need to step in and help – as you always have done.

Family Love Letter Workshops – May 2012

You are cordially invited to join Linda E. Wasielewski, attorney & mediator and Matt Breimayer & Vicki Beam with Fortitude Wealth Planners, LLC as we discuss the many obstacles that we as families face while preparing for the event of incapacitation or death of a family member through the introduction of the Family Love Letter.

Bellaire Senior Center
308 Cayuga Street
Bellaire, MI 49615

May 9, 2012
10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Traverse City Golf & Country Club
1725 S. Union Street
Traverse City, MI 49684

May 23, 2012
10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

*All who attend will receive a complementary copy of the Family Love Letter Book.

To make your reservation, call our office (231) 947-2920. Seating is limited.

Event for Seniors and Boomers – Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Retirement Ideas and More!

Bay Area Senior Advocates (B.A.S.A.) are holding the 11th Annual Ideas for Life Senior Expo, held May 16th from 10 am – 3 pm at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center, in Traverse City, Michigan.

Spread the word – lots of great information for boomers and seniors!

For details go to:

Bay Area Senior Advocates (B.A.S.A.) are proud to announce their 11th Annual Ideas for Life Senior Expo, held May 16th from 10 am – 3 pm at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center, in Traverse City, Michigan.

Medicaid Estate Recovery – Things have changed in Michigan

For a long time, the state of Michigan resisted the federal mandate to recover medicaid costs from the estates of those individuals when they died.

Effective July 1, 2011, Michigan began it’s recovery program.

How does it work? Medicaid beneficiaries who are age 55 or older and who have received long term care services after September 30, 2007, are now subject to estate recovery. Since people who qualify for Medicaid have less than $2,000.00 in assets, but, they may have a home. Therefore, estate recovery is really aimed at recovering Medicaid dollars from the equity in the house after the recipient dies.

From everyone who has a home? Not necessarily. Right now, estate recovery only applies to property passing through the probate estate of the deceased Medicaid recipient. Therefore, if the home can by-pass probate court, it will not be subject to recovery.

How can this work? By having the home (and other assets) transfer to the beneficiaries immediately upon the death of the owner without a need to go to probate court. This can be done by beneficiary designations and “Ladybird deeds” .

What is a Ladybird deed? It is a deed where the owner transfers his/her property to the beneficiaries during his/her lifetime, however, the owner holds back a life estate in the property and the right to sell. Therefore, the beneficiaries don’t really get title to the property until the owner dies.

Can this be done if the property owner is in a nursing home? Yes. If they are able to sign, they can sign the deed. If they are unable to sign, an individual acting under a Durable Power of Attorney may be able to sign for them. If that is not possible, the family can go to Probate Court and obtain a Protective Order.

Won’t these steps cost the family money? Yes, however, it is far less than would be lost if the home went into the deceased individual’s probate estate and his/her Medicaid costs are deducted from the value of the home.

Medicaid recovery can be eliminated or minimized using the proper legal tools.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements (Marital Agreements)

So, you’re getting married – Congratulations!

In addition to all the other wedding plans, you need to add doing a Pre-Nuptial Agreement (also known as a Pre-Marital Agreement).

This seems to be an awkward topic that most people would rather avoid.  After all, the two people are in love and trust one another – so the idea of sitting down and drafting a document that would deal with divorce and death seems inappropriate.

It is appropriate and necessary.  A pre-nuptial agreement can be viewed as an insurance policy.  You may be a good driver and certainly do not intend on causing an accident injuring another person – but – you still have insurance, just in case.  That is the value of a pre-nuptial agreement – just in case.

This is of less value for the young couple getting married for the first time.  They may each come into the marriage with little in the way of assets.  For older couples, who may have worked and accumulated some wealth, and perhaps some real property, this is a must.

While you enter into marriage with the best of hopes, dreams and goals, the statistics show that many of these hopes and dreams are dashed.  Many couples, for a variety of reasons, end up in divorce.  The legal process involved in separating the assets between the couple are costly – emotionally as well as financially.

A pre-nuptial agreement forces a couple to ask the difficult questions and investigate the reality of each other’s financial situation.  Does one of the individuals have more debt than was understood?  Does one have more assets?  This discussion can eliminate suspicions and worries.  It also sets the record straight on how these financial matters will be handled.

A pre-nuptial agreement will give each party a clear snapshot of where the other is financially and legally.  It will also set forth the terms and conditions of a division of assets if one becomes necessary in the future.

It can address other important financial issues concerning property.  If one individual owns a home and the other will live there – who will pay the mortgage? the utilities? the taxes? the repairs?  How are increases and decreases in wealth which were accumulated prior to the marriage to be treated?

In a second marriage situation, the pre-nuptial agreement not only addresses the issue of divorce asset division, but also of the distribution of assets upon death.  If you have children from a prior marriage, would you want your wealth to be distributed to them upon your death?  Would you want to include the children of your new spouse?

These issues can be resolved in a business like manner – setting forth all of the expectations of the parties.  Yes, in a business like manner.   Marriage is much like a business – a partnership.  If the financial rules and expectations are set down prior to the marriage – it can actually give each individual a peace of mind knowing that this is not subject to chance.

In the unlikely situation that the marriage ends in divorce, the pre-nuptial agreement can shortcut hours of antagonistic litigation and save thousands of dollars.

All individuals looking at an upcoming marriage should discuss a pre-nuptial agreement to protect their assets during the marriage, at their death and in the event of divorce.