Attorney & Mediator
Attorney & Mediator

Children in England have much greater rights than in the U.S.


Children in England have much greater rights than in the U.S.


While our laws in the U.S. are derived from the English Common Law system, changes over time have put the inheritance laws on divergent paths.

In Michigan, it is possible to disinherit a child from taking from your estate.  Apparently, this is not the case in England any longer.


Disinherited children are suing and winning when they are left out – even when the child is estranged from the parent.

See this interesting article that shows one of the “winners”:

It’s good to be American if you are the parents.  It’s good to be British if you are the kids.

Estate Planner’s Perspective – Gifting today or bequests later?



Many clients plan for their passing by leaving their assets to their children at their death.  They do not leave assets to grandchildren or great-grandchildren.  Now that the exempt amount for estate taxation is $5Million per person, many have forgotten about gifting programs to diminish the size of their estates.


From a tax perspective, all of this makes sense; however, it may be worth another look since we have had big shifts in our economic reality.


For those with modest estates, staying the course as above is probably wisest.  It is crucial to maintain adequate assets to last for your lifetime, including a period of disability.


For those with large estates, it may be time to look at the economic reality that is confronting your children and grandchildren.   This generation of adults is confronted with paying for student loan debt, mortgage debt, funding their own retirements, and saving for their children to go to college all at the same time.  Even with good jobs, they can be struggling economically.  While they will certainly appreciate any bequest they may receive when you pass away, it may be a little late for it to make a meaningful change in their lives.


For your grandchildren, they will need education in this coming age.  Yet, the increasing mountain of student debt is staggering.  Higher education is now reaching the point where it is virtually unaffordable.


How can you alter your planning to assist with this changed reality?


First, you may consider gifting during your lifetime on an annual basis to your children or your grandchildren.  Giving additional funds today may ease the financial burden they are laboring under.   For grandchildren, you should strongly consider establishing and funding 529 Plans for college education.  This money will grow as they do and may provide the ability for them to go to the college or university of their choice when they are ready, without being buried under a mountain of student loan debt.


Next, you may consider leaving bequests to your grandchildren directly in your trust or will.  It will undoubtedly come at a time when they can truly benefit from the money.  It can make a real change in their lives.  Additionally, it will also touch their hearts to know that you remembered them.


New times may mean new plans.

Same-sex Marriage in Michigan

rainbow flag

Same-sex Marriage in Michigan.  The celebration from the Supreme Court decision has diminished.  But is it really all over?


There is still significant work to do.  Laws in Michigan need to be changed to conform to the mandates of the Supreme Court ruling.  And – there will be challenges and end-runs by the religious freedom activists on the right.


The Supreme Court decision may really be a beginning instead of an end.


See: Same Sex Marriage Michigan Law Supreme Court Ruling


College Age Kids?  Helping Them to Avoid Debt Traps

Your kids are getting ready to go to college.  Their dreams and aspirations are high and you don’t want to take the wind out of their sails.  Yet, the staggering student loan burden for college graduates is a road block to financial prosperity for many.  Even with a good job, having a student loan debt of $100,000 is like having a mortgage without the house to live in.

How can you counsel your children so that they attain their dreams of the college education but avoid the debt trap?

See CNN Money’s – Five Biggest Student Loan Mistakes.

Help those kids stay on the road to prosperity.