Robert D. Paulbeck, Attorney at Law
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Trenton Legal Issues Blog

Prenuptial agreements aren't just for Michigan's rich

If asked who should draft a prenuptial agreement, most people would respond that only people of means should. That's far from the case though. In fact, many people with limited assets have begun requesting prenups in recent years. You may wonder what's the profile of those who request them and what motivates them to do it.

Individuals who are getting remarried have begun requesting prenups at increasing rates. They are doing this because many of them have been burned by lopsided divorce settlements before. They don't want to put the few assets that they do own in jeopardy of being taken away from them again.

Should I include digital assets in my Michigan will?

While virtually every adult can benefit from estate planning, few do more than simply drafting a will. Even if someone does, they rarely take time to include a comprehensive inventory of all their assets and what they wish to happen with them. In an era in which so many people use online accounts and social media pages, wills should ideally include these digital assets if a testator wants their heirs to have lawful access to them in the future.

If you stop for a second to think about your digital footprint, it's fairly large. You likely keep a watchful eye over your investment accounts, retirement portfolio or your bank account online. You likely pay your utility bills by logging in. You also likely have at least one social media page or photo album that you manage by via an app or a website.

Do you know what to expect from the probate process?

The death of a loved one can be a difficult time for any Michigan family. Everything involved, from planning a funeral to settling an estate, can be daunting. When considering what you need to do in order to resolve the affairs of the deceased and finalize estate matters, it can be helpful to learn what you should expect from the probate process. 

The probate process is the court-supervised process of taking care of all things related to settling an estate, such as paying remaining debts and distributing assets as outlined in the will. A person can name someone specific to act as the executor of his or her estate, but if not, the court will name a person to act in this capacity. Every probate process is different, and the amount of time it will take to complete it depends on the details of the individual situation.

While U.S. foreclosure rates decline, Michigan ones increase

The property database ATTOM Data Solutions released its 2018 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report earlier this month. Although it shows that the number of foreclosures nationwide dropped to a 13-year low in 2018, some cities in Michigan ended up having some of the highest rates of all American cities in 2018.

By the end of the year in 2018, there were 624,753 homes that were either repossessed by the bank, default notices sent out or auctions scheduled to sell them off. This marked a decrease of eight percent over the number of foreclosures in 2017. It was a 78 percent reduction from the 2.9 million homes that were repossessed by lenders in 2010.

Can you collect your deceased spouse's disability benefits?

The list of conditions that the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers to be disabilities is limited. In order to qualify to receive monthly payments, an individual must have a terminal illness or expect to be unable to work for at least a year. Once you start receiving disability payments, you're ineligible to make outside income. This leads many to ask whether they qualify to receive benefits once belonging to a deceased spouse.

Trenton spouses who were married to their husbands or wives for at least 10 years and never remarried are generally able to receive survivor benefits on behalf of a spouse who formerly received disability payments before their death.

Tackle the emotional trauma that can accompany divorce

The emotional trauma that you may experience during a contentious divorce can have a big impact on the decisions you make at this critical time. The problem is that following your heart and making emotional decisions might not be in your best interests. In order to avoid this, you have to examine your emotions and determine how you can move forward. We are here to help you learn about your options throughout the divorce process.

Every decision you make when you are going through this necessary but painful process can either set you up for the life you want or make it even more challenging than it has to be. You must discover the fine line between respecting your emotions and making the practical choice.

What are some common property disputes between neighbors?

When many of us set out to buy a house in Trenton, we're often consumed by finding one that checks off all the boxes on our wish list. Many times, it includes physical attributes that we'd like our house to have but not what we're looking for in terms of neighbors. Maybe it should, though.

Researchers at FindLaw recently polled average Americans to find out how well they get along with their neighbors. At least 42 percent revealed that they'd previously fought with them.

Opioids have left more Michigan grandparents raising grandkids

The numbers of grandparents both in Michigan and across the country that are having to take on the responsibility for caring for their grandchildren full time have increased steadily in recent years. This uptick in grandparents raising their grandkids has largely been fueled by the opioid epidemic that has swept across the Midwest particularly hard.

An Ann Arbor nonprofit, Altarum, interviewed 20 grandmothers across Michigan and surveyed over 1,000 others throughout the country. At least 20 percent of them admitted that they were raising their grandchildren themselves because their adult children are addicted to drugs. Many of them also admitted that this has forced many of them to return to work or to delay their retirements so that they can afford to raise them.

It's smart to carefully review your commercial lease

One of the most important steps you may take as a Michigan small business owner is finding the right commercial space for your company. It can be difficult to find the right space that you can afford, and upon finding it, you may be anxious to move forward as quickly as possible. However, it is smart to carefully review your contract before you sign. 

Like other types of legal contracts, the terms of a commercial lease agreement are negotiable. This means you may be able to secure terms that are most beneficial for you and reduce the chance of issues in the future. If presented with a contract to sign or in negotiations with the landlord, it is in your interests to carefully review all terms and conditions.

You should revisit your estate plan the minute that you divorce

Although filing for legal separation may stop your estranged spouse from laying claim to some of your assets after you split up, there are many that they may be legally entitled to if you were to become incapacitated or pass away before your divorce is finalized. There are some estate planning steps that you can take the minute you split up to minimize the control that they have over you and your assets though.

One of the first things that you may want to do after you file for divorce in Michigan is to update your durable power of attorney (POA). Your current POA likely reflects your intention to allow your spouse to gain full access to your assets and bank account. It's time to put someone else in charge in the event of an emergency. (In addition to drafting a new POA, you'll want to put your soon-to-be-ex on notice that the former POA is being revoked.)