Grand Traverse County Michigan Divorce and Estate Planning Blog

Estate planning as part of elder care

The fastest growing age group in Michigan and elsewhere in the country consists of those 55 years of age and older. They are known as the baby-boom generation, those who were born in the years after World War II. As they near retirement age, or are already retired, there are special issues regarding retirement planning and estate planning that they and their loved ones should be aware of.

Elder law retirement plans should address particular issues such as end-of-life care, including medical directives, power of attorney documents in the event one becomes incapacitated, and documents that can help protect one's assets. These can all be incorporated into trust documents that can help to protect one's assets while one is still living. A will only applies following one's death.

Is your retirement plan ready for your Michigan divorce?

Planning for retirement is important to your security as you grow older. If you are like many couples in Michigan, you and your spouse probably created a retirement plan. Whether you opened your own savings account, used an employer-sponsored 401k or have a pension coming to you when you retire, it's important that the amount you have set aside reflects the age at which you intend to retire and the standard of living you hope to maintain.

Unfortunately, a divorce can throw all of that planning completely out of whack. Your plans no doubt involved you and your spouse maintaining the same home and sharing expenses. In other words, you might need to start thinking carefully about your retirement finances if you are close to that age and headed for divorce.

Commercial real estate can spur residential development

Commercial real estate has been on the uptick for Northern parts of Michigan and Grand Traverse County for a while now. Growth in commercial real estate frequently spurs growth in residential development and the Traverse City area is no exception. A new residential development is under way for the Hammond Road area.

A proposed development could be under construction as soon as this summer. The development calls for 165 manufactured housing units to be constructed on 80-acre plot of land adjacent to Traverse Academy. The plan calls for several amenities including a large clubhouse, pool, outdoor hot tub, walking paths, and a pickleball court. The units will be owned, not leased, and have available options including decks, garages and sunrooms. They will be predominantly three-bedroom, two bath homes averaging 1,500 square feet.

Estate planning can ease pain at a difficult time

Aretha Franklin passed away almost one year ago. At the time, it was believed that she had not left a will. Three documents appearing to be wills were recently found in her Michigan home. The discovery is likely to add to the complexity of settling the late singer's estate and also illustrates the benefit to comprehensive estate planning.

The first question that will have to be answered is whether or not any or all of the documents represent a legal will under Michigan law. Two of the documents, one dated in 2010 and the other in 2014, appear to be valid. The third is a one-page document from 2010 that does not contain any information regarding who is to receive her assets or to administer the estate.

Estate planning and financial planning should be connected

Estate planning and financial planning are two terms that are frequently heard in Michigan. What many people may not understand is the interconnectedness of the two. People may believe they don't need a financial plan as they have an estate plan in place and vice versa. The reality is that one without the other could leave significant aspects of one's estate and family unprotected in the event of one's passing. Estate planning can serve as a comprehensive guide for what happens to one's assets, both financial and nonfinancial.

It is important to be aware that a will or trust may not control the dispensation of all of one's assets. A will, for example, cannot override beneficiary designations on insurance policies or retirement accounts. If a person remarries, has children or experiences other life changing events those documents should be adjusted to reflect those changes.

Children's health care can be a significant issue in divorce

Couples in Michigan contemplating ending their marriages have many issues to consider. When children are involved, the number of issues compounds. A major issue and concern can be continuing health care coverage for everyone involved but especially for children. The current law stipulates that children involved in divorce or child custody cases be provided with health care through coverage offered by employment or a private program. A bill introduced in the state legislature proposes certain changes.

A state representative has introduced a bill that would allow parents involved in a divorce proceeding to enroll their child or children in a public health care plan to meet the obligation of providing health care coverage. The bill was recently submitted to the Michigan House. The vote was unanimous in favor of approval. The bill now moves to the other chamber.

How will the Michigan courts handle custody in divorce?

Ending your marriage means dealing with a lot of uncertainty. For many parents in Michigan who are unhappy in their marriage, divorce is the only real solution. However, divorce comes with a number of complications, including the fact that you may not have control over the outcome of the custody proceedings.

Unless you and your ex file an uncontested divorce where you set your own terms, the courts will have the ultimate say in the allocation of parental responsibilities and rights, including custody and support. The terms of custody will vary depending on your family's circumstances. The courts strive to create unique and appropriate custody guidelines for each family.

Real estate still booming in Northern Michigan

Summer is coming and Grand Traverse County is looking forward to a healthy tourist season. Northern Michigan is becoming a tourist destination, and this is contributing to strong growth in the commercial real estate industry in and around the area. Much of this business is food-centered as hungry tourists must be fed.

Some recent additions to the gastronomic scene include a carry out business specializing in food that travels well, including sandwiches, vegetarian options, sweets and beverages. The area offers many options for hiking and exploration and the company, Gold Baby Biscuits, hopes to become a go-to for energetic hikers. The shop is located next to another new venture, Mundos Roasting & Co. which is a new coffee shop.

Man charged with criminal law violations after chase

An encounter with police often means one's rights are on the line. Some law enforcement officers may overstep their boundaries to make an arrest or gather evidence. This is why it is important for Michigan citizens to know their rights concerning criminal law and where to turn for assistance if they feel their rights have been violated.

Recently, police followed a vehicle that had aroused their suspicion. The officer reported that the driver of the vehicle sped up and ran a stop sign, which gave police cause to pull him over. However, the driver allegedly accelerated, initiating a police chase that ended when the car struck a utility pole. Police say a subsequent search of the man revealed a pipe with residue of methamphetamine in his pocket.

Economic opportunity contributing to real estate growth

Northern Michigan is enjoying a renaissance and Grand Traverse County is reaping some of the benefit. Traverse City has long been a tourist destination for its beautiful scenery, including both forests and beaches. People have come to the area for vacation but now the perception of the area is changing. It is becoming an appealing location for businesses, and this is having a positive impact on the real estate environment.

Traverse City is seeing economic growth that is reflected in a growing population. Young professionals today appreciate access to both economic opportunity and relaxing leisure activities that are not necessarily available in the densely populated and busy cities. Successful development in the area has been underway for some time and can be seen in the development of Traverse City State Hospital into the Grand Traverse Commons project, which is a multi-use development that has become home to a variety of businesses.