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Who Needs Estate Planning?

The Facts...

Estate planning isn’t about how much money you have, it's about protecting what you have for you, during your life and for those you love, after you’re gone. It ensures what you have gets to the people you love, the way you want, when you want – and it ensures that you will be properly provided for when you can no longer do it for yourself.

If you were to die – or become disabled - today, are you comfortable everything will be taken care of the way you wanted?  Will your family know how to make the hard decisions that must be made? Estate planning is legally ensuring things will be handled the way you want by providing sufficient instructions, and it is reducing the burden on those that must take care of things when you are no longer able to.

Estate Planning really is for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you have $40,000, $400,000, or 4 million. You still have to plan for the future. Whether it’s to name a guardian for your minor...

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When Considering Child Guardianship, These Are the Things to Consider

child guardianship Oct 10, 2016


GUARDIANSHIP of Minor Children…

The facts...

Considering what could happen to your minor children if you and the other parent aren’t there is painful and difficult.  However, this is a necessary component of good parenting.  Leaving these things to chance could be the most devastating thing to happen to a child – after losing you.  Why leave it to chance?

Naming a couple to act as guardians and not indicating what should happen if the couple divorces, breaks up, or if one of the partners dies may mean your kids could end up in the care of someone you wouldn't really want.

Failing to name enough alternates to serve if your first choice cannot serve may also mean your kids could end up in the care of someone you wouldn't really want.

Only considering the financial resources of potential guardians when deciding who should raise your children may be a huge mistake. Your guardians do not have to also be...

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Why Do I Need a Financial Power of Attorney? - Ask The Attorney

Q: Every time I go to the doctor, they ask me if I have a health care power of attorney. I understand why that’s important, but now I’m hearing that I also need a financial power of attorney (financial POA). My family member is joint on everything, so why do I need one?



A: The short answer is, you need a financial POA in the event that you become unable to manage your own finances. Even though you may think you have everything “taken care of” through joint ownership, it isn’t that simple. For example, you cannot own most tax-deferred assets, such as IRAs, jointly. A beneficiary designation doesn’t give power to your beneficiary during your life. A financial POA, when done properly, also enables a person you trust to apply for important health care benefits (if you need them) and it enables them to preserve your money in times of crisis.  Without proper planning, your loved ones will need to go to court in a process called...

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How Do I Know if My Dad Qualifies for Veteran's Improved Pension? - Ask The Attorney

va Oct 01, 2016

Q: I called the VA and was told my dad doesn’t qualify for Veteran’s Improved Pension, but someone else told me they heard he might qualify, even if they said he doesn’t. How do I go about getting the right answer?


A: Improved pension is also known as “Aid & Attendance,” and it pays up to almost $25,000 of additional tax-free income a year for at home care, assisted living, or nursing home. This can be a great financial relief to those that are worried about outliving their money. The real fact is, even if the VA claims your loved one doesn’t qualify, or that they have “too much money,” they may be able to become qualified. This is true for the Veteran as well as a spouse or widow(er).The best thing to do if you want to know your options is to go to a Veterans Administration Accredited attorney that specializes in long term care benefits. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you were given wrong information, and...

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Planning for An Unexpected Illness or Healthcare Crisis

No one expects bad things to happen to them, or those they love. But real life tells us that bad things happen to good people, every day.

This episode is all about planning for an unexpected health crisis, illness, or accident – NO MATTER WHAT YOUR AGE!

In this episode, Nicole discusses the two absolutely essential legal documents every person 18 years and older needs, how people think (incorrectly) that they already have it taken care of, why your spouse may not be the best choice to manage things for you, why you may need to fire your doctor, and much more!

Nicole also talks about how she experienced her own healthcare crisis, which is why this was the first podcast episode to be aired after receiving a fatal diagnosis – unexpectedly.

Don’t let this happen to you, or to those you love!  Take the small amount of time and effort to be prepared.



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What IS a Revocable Living Trust? - Ask The Attorney

revocable living trust Sep 01, 2016

Q: What Is a Revocable Living Trust?

A: To explain revocable living trusts, or RLT’s, I like to use an analogy. Let’s say you’re a child, and have a little red wagon. You take your Barbies, your G.I. Joes, your toy cars, and you put all of them in your wagon. If you’re walking along the sidewalk and trip and fall, what happens? Well, you trip and fall...but your toys stay in your wagon. The wagon serves a purpose. It keeps things together, so that if something happens, the handle can be picked up by someone else and they can just keep walking. The RLT is the same. Like the wagon, it is a vessel, meant to hold your items in a way that provides the easiest transfer upon disability or death. However, just like the wagon, if you don’t put your “toys” (accounts, real estate, etc.) inside your trust, it doesn’t work in the way it was intended. Also, the trust, just like the wagon, doesn’t change your things. If I put my Barbie inside...

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Elder Law or Estate Planning? (What's The Difference?)

elder law estate planning Jun 29, 2016

When new clients come to see us, they often focus on wills and trusts. They say something like, “I want to make sure my assets pass to my heirs with as little as possible in taxes and other expenses.”

That’s typical traditional Estate Planning.

elder law

But for seniors and leading edge Baby Boomers (retired or nearing retirement), you need to know the difference between Elder Law and Estate Planning.

Elder Law Incorporates Estate Planning, But Takes Care Issues Into Account

Understanding the difference between “estate planning” and “elder law” is essential for everyone. Elder law attorneys provide tools and strategies that most estate planning attorneys simply don’t. At the end of the day, what makes sense in an estate planning sense may prove financially catastrophic when viewed from an elder law standpoint.

Estate Planning = Death Planning

An estate plan helps someone who is worried about “what happens when I die.” It...

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Last Will and Testament - The Facts

This article regarding a last will and testament by Michigan lawyer Nicole Wipp and the Family & Aging Law Center PLLC is not, and should not be construed as, legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only. To better understand how this legal concept can be applied to you, consult with an attorney.

Last Will and Testament - What Do You Really Need to Know?

When it comes to wills, people tend to have a lot of misconceptions.  What, then, are the facts when it comes to a last will and testament?


The Facts...

If you own assets in your name alone, they may pass from you to the people you love, as long as you leave a Will. Without a Will, your assets pass according to the State’s rules, also known as intestacy. The State may not pass your assets to the people you care about. You should be sure.

Also, you should know that...last will and testament

  •  A Will must go through probate! Basically, a Will is your ticket into probate court. (Many...
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Wills and Trusts - What You Think You Know (But Probably Don't)

This article regarding wills and trusts by Michigan lawyer Nicole Wipp and the Family & Aging Law Center PLLC is not, and should not be construed as, legal advice. It is for general informational purposes only. To better understand how this legal concept can be applied to you, consult with an attorney.

Clients often come to me with ideas about wills and trusts that they learned from friends, neighbors, and the internet.  I’ve come to realize that a lot of people think they know about wills & trusts - but they don’t

Unfortunately, most people don’t ever find out they don’t know, because by the time it comes to light, it’s simply too late.  Here are some frequently misunderstood facts about wills and trusts:

Wills: Your Ticket Into Probate Court

Listen and Learn! Nicole's Podcast Episode About Wills (click the orange arrow to listen):


  • A will is, essentially, your ticket into probate court. Many people think that if they...
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Estate Planning Checklist - Do You Need Estate Planning?

Here Are Eighteen Estate Planning Checklist Questions to Help You Learn Whether YOU Need Estate Planning

Many people have mistaken ideas about what estate planning is, or what it can do for you - and more importantly, for those you love. (These cover the most common concerns/concepts related to estate planning.)

  1. Do you have minor children or are you the legal guardian of a child under the age of 18?  Yes___ No__
  2. If your financial situation or finances become public knowledge, do you have concerns that predators might take advantage of loved ones in their time of grief or stress?  Yes____ No___
  3. If you got sick or injured, would you want to ensure that the person(s) that YOU say get to make your medical decisions if you can't do it for yourself? (And that a judge, or someone else, doesn't get to say who makes these decisions??)  Yes____ No___
  4. If you got sick or injured, would you want to ensure that the person(s) that YOU say get to make...
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