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

What estate documents should I update after my spouse's death?

Each day, countless Michigan residents pass away unexpectedly in car crashes or incidents or after coming down with a sudden or terminal illness. No one is guaranteed that they have a tomorrow. If your spouse predeceases you, then you'll want to consult with an attorney to review your estate plans right away, even if you're still grieving. There are some updates that you'll need to make to them.

One of the first documents that you'll want to reassess is your medical power of attorney, also known as a health care proxy. It's here that you identify the person that you'd like to communicate your medical decisions to doctors if you were unable to do so yourself.

Be as accurate as possible with money during divorce

When you're filing for divorce, part of the process is simply declaring your assets to the court. This allows the court to divide those assets properly between you and your spouse.

The key is to be as accurate as you can be. Do not guess. You don't just want to get close. If you're not perfectly accurate, you could really stand to lose a lot of money.

Alternatives to foreclosure exist in Michigan

From job loss to an unexpected health decline, many factors can cause a homeowner to fall behind on their mortgage payments. While your lender may temporarily reduce or delay your mortgage payments if you're facing a hardship, they don't have to.

Not paying your monthly mortgage payment on time or at all can affect your credit and cause your home to be foreclosed on. This can adversely impact your score.

Why does the SSA approve some disability claims and deny others?

The pursuit of disability benefits is particularly important for people who are unable to work. You may find yourself in this group – left unable to earn a living because of a physical or mental limitation. Whether you suffered a serious injury, have debilitating depression or are sick with a terminal disease, you know how important it is to get financial help when you cannot work.

The purpose of disability benefits through the Social Security Administration is to provide help for people who suffer from specific types of disabilities. In order to qualify, you must have an illness that the SSA considers genuinely disabling, and you expect this condition to last for at least 12 months or for the rest of your life. If you applied but were not successful, this can be devastating.

Social Security Disability Insurance program to last thru 2052

On April 22, the Social Security Administration (SSA) made an announcement that should serve as good new for disability benefits recipients. They announced that its disability trust fund should be able to support recipients for another 20 years.

Their latest estimates show that the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund should remain viable until at least 2052. Just last year, they argued that it would be bankrupt by 2032.

Under what circumstances can Michigan parenting time be modified?

One of the first steps parents in Trenton take after deciding to end their marriage is to have a Michigan judge enter a temporary custody order in their case. A mom or dad who isn't awarded primary custody of their son or daughter is referred to as the non-custodial parent. How much parenting time they'll be given with their child depends on a variety of factors.

If the non-custodial parent fails to obey a parenting time order, then the primary custodian can submit a written petition to the Friend of the Court asking for enforcement. It may be possible for the non-custodial parent to make up their missed parenting time. Alternately, mediation sessions may be scheduled to resolve differences in opinion.

Odds of divorce go up with these risk factors

Wondering what the odds are that you'll get divorced? It's impossible to pin them down exactly, of course. While many people are fond of saying that half of all marriages end in divorce, this does not take into account the many different factors that impact every unique relationship. It's not as simple as saying that one out of every two couples will split up.

What we can do, however, is take a look at some of the most common risk factors for divorce. These things make your odds of divorce higher than they would be otherwise. While that still doesn't give you a specific number, at least you know that it's more or less likely based on your personal life and experiences. Some risk factors include:

  • You were very young -- 18 years old, for instance -- when you got married.
  • You and your spouse have different drinking habits or other addictions.
  • Your parents and/or your spouse's parents got divorced.
  • Your wedding cost more than $20,000.
  • You had a baby together right after you got married or even before the marriage.
  • You have a relatively low level of education, e.g., no college degree.
  • This is not your first marriage and you already ended things with a former spouse before you and your current spouse decided to tie the knot.

Young people who won't get an inheritance still expect one

Not everyone gets an inheritance. However, many people expect their parents to leave them something. What is perhaps most concerning is that more children expect an inheritance than the number of parents who expect to give them one.

In one study, millennials were asked if they thought their parents would have an inheritance to leave them. The majority -- 68 percent -- said that they did. However, when their parents were asked if they expected to leave behind financial assets for those children, a mere 40 percent said they did. The majority of parents will not leave an inheritance to children who probably expect to get one.

When is it better to walk away from an affordable house?

Looking for the right home is not easy. There are many factors to consider beyond your wish list. Among these is finding a great home at a price within your budget. It is not out of the question to find a really good deal on a house you love. However, it is prudent to be aware that a good deal may not be as good as it looks.

The selling price of a Michigan home determines its mortgage payments and influences the property taxes you will pay in the future. While it may be tempting to jump at the chance of buying a low-priced home that you love, you can save yourself long-term grief by looking for signs that it's too good to be true.

Social Security Administration may start watching social media

Americans have an ongoing love affair with social media -- and it has become normal for many people to post regular updates about their lives on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Well, now, Uncle Sam -- in the form of the Social Security Administration (SSA) -- would like to take an unfettered peek at what you post. That way, they can use your posts in order to weigh the veracity of your disability claims.