Legal Blog

Are Irrevocable or Revocable Trusts Useful When Trying to Qualify for Medicaid?

Navigating the legal waters associated with property ownership can become complicated, even more so as you approach retirement age. Many folks have heard about people in the past being able to save some or all of their assets by establishing legal trusts. Following this train of thought can lead to big trouble down the line because the rules are complex and have undergone changes during this century.

The medical expenses associated with aging often include long-term care and can quickly rise in a short period. For folks who have few assets of significant value, a Medicaid application can be the fastest and easiest way to obtain the funds necessary for proper medical care. This government program provides coverage for men and women who qualify based on income and certain other requirements, such as the value of current assets.

Well before you need to apply for Medicaid you need to begin planning how to protect your assets. This should be done as a part of your estate planning, including your will, trusts, and transfer of certain properties. However, the legal processes can be quite complicated and must consider the current federal laws regarding revocable and irrevocable trusts.

First of all, revocable trusts are a way that you can separate some of your assets from the rest. This can be useful for placing all of the properties you want a particular person to inherit. If they are named the beneficiary of the trust upon your passing, the transfer occurs quickly and is not subject to the hassles of the probate court. However, the downside to this is that the trust is considered part of your assets. Because you retain control over how the funds are handled and have the option to change or dissolve it when you want, the government will use it when determining your worth when applying for Medicaid.

On the other hand are irrevocable trusts, an option that some folks believe will protect them from this scenario. However, it is not as cut and dried as it might seem. While you cannot end an irrevocable trust, hence the name, the funds that you have added to it are now checked out by the government. You can be subjected to penalties for the assets that you have placed in the irrevocable trusts. If you have given away assets in the five years before your application, there are unavoidable penalties.

An interesting note is that any asset transferred within that period will be used by Medicaid officers to limit your qualifications. However, there are some exceptions to the rules, though they are complicated to enact correctly.

Speaking to a qualified estate planning or elder law attorney is the best way to determine the best way to get the medical care you need while protecting your assets in every way possible. These experts have studied the nuances of the law and know how to ensure you adhere to the law while taking care of yourself and your loved ones. You have worked hard for your assets and deserve the best legal representation possible when planning for your future!

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Our Michigan Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Einheuser Legal, P.C. is an estate planning law firm in Bingham Farms, Michigan. We help families set up wills and living trusts. Attorney Michael Einheuser is an experienced estate planning lawyer serving residents in Bingham Farms, Troy, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Township.

Schedule your free consultation today by calling 248-398-4665.

12 Simple Steps To Create An Estate Plan Right Now

Most often, estate planning is a neglected part of financial planning. In fact, more than 50% of Americans don’t have a will, and only a very few have an estate plan. The majority of us would benefit from an estate plan, even though a will is considered a simple legal document that contains the desire of an individual about the distribution of his/her properties. An estate plan goes even further than a will. It deals with the legal wishes of the person and the distribution of his/her assets. An estate plan can also help you and your heirs pay less in taxes, court charges, and other fees over time. Here are 12 Simple Steps to Create an Estate Plan.

  1. The first step is to make a will. You should name the person(s) whom you wish to inherit your assets. You can also name a guardian to take care of the kids if something happens to you and the other parent.
  2. Considering a trust is the second step in the process of creating an estate plan. When you hold the property in a living trust, your family will not have to go through an expensive and time-consuming process in a probate court.
  3. The next step is to make health care directives. When you write down your wishes for health care, it will protect your in the long run if you become unable to make decisions regarding your medical health. This gives the power to someone you nominate to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do it yourself.
  4. Making a financial power of attorney is the fourth step in the process. When you include a power-of-attorney (finances), you give a trusted individual the authority to handle your finances on your behalf. This person is known as your agent or attorney-in-fact. But he or she doesn’t have to be an attorney for this purpose.
  5. Protecting the properties of your children is the fifth step in the process. Name an adult to manage the assets your minor children inherit from you. He or she could be the same person as the personal guardian that you named in your will.
  6. Filing beneficiary forms is another step in the process of creating an estate plan. You should name a beneficiary for retirement plans and bank accounts. This will make such accounts automatically payable to the beneficiary on your death. Such funds will skip the probate process.
  7. Life insurance should also be considered when creating an estate plan.
  8. Understanding estate taxes is another important step in the process. More than 99% of the states do not owe federal estate taxes. In fact, the federal government would impose an estate tax at your death only if the estate is worth more than $5.45 million.
  9. Covering funeral expenses is another important aspect to consider when creating an estate plan. You can set-up a payable-on-death at the bank and deposit money into it to pay for your funeral and other expenses.
  10. Making the final arrangements known regarding body organ donations and cremation/burial.
  11. If you are the sole owner of the business, you need to devise a succession plan for the company.
  12. The final step is to store your documents. The trustee would need to access the following documents at your death: will, trusts, insurance policies, stock certificates, deeds of properties, bank account details, retirement plan details, credit cards, mortgage loan details, and funeral repayment plans, etc.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Our Michigan Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Einheuser Legal, P.C. is an estate planning law firm in Bingham Farms, Michigan. We help families set up wills and living trusts. Attorney Michael Einheuser is an experienced estate planning lawyer serving residents in Bingham Farms, Troy, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Township.

Schedule your free consultation today by calling 248-398-4665.

Essential Estate Planning For Singles

Currently, more and more people are choosing to remain unmarried or refuse to get involved again after going through a bad experience. One of the common misconceptions happens to be that estate planning is not relevant for singles. Although estate planning is often used to help secure the future of the children and spouse after the death of an individual, it doesn’t mean it’s less important for singles.

Investment experts and financial advisors alike agree that a proper strategy for estate planning and management is essential for everybody, including widowed seniors and individuals who have survived failed marriages. For these people, it’s important to have a plan in place to avoid having their state decide how their property is to be distributed after they pass on.

Estate Planning Issues for Singles

  1. Heirs

One of the primary roles of estate planning is determining how a person’s property and assets are distributed once they are gone. Failure to make a will or form trusts would mean that the state is responsible for deciding and distributing these assets after their death, based on the default rules that apply. For single individuals, it’s crucial to make a will at least, to ensure that their assets are left behind in a manner of their choice.

  1. Decision Makers

Estate planning mostly goes beyond the distribution of property, by helping to give an insight on important decisions like choosing the person who will make the critical decisions about the health and finances in case of incapacitation. Without a will, single individuals are at a risk of having the state pick a caretaker, guardian, or decision maker for them.

  1. Beneficiaries

To evaluate the financial decisions and goals of a person over time, estate planning regularly probes individuals, and keep their beneficiaries designations and other relevant documents updated. Keep in mind that these designations and distributions are upheld after the demise of the account holder, regardless of the designations provided in their will.

Estate Planning Essentials for Singles

  •    Wills: Forming a will is ideally the first step of making an estate plan. It lets the person develop a plan for the distribution of the property to the beneficiaries of choice, and choosing an executor who’s in a position to guide the probate process.
  •    Medical Provisions: Decisions such as selecting a healthcare professional with a medical power of attorney is vital for singles since there’s no spouse to take over on their behalf.
  •    A Durable Power of Attorney: this is a legal document awarded by the property owner to a person of choice, who is given the mandate of making important decisions about the owner’s finances and other personal affairs if anything happens. For singles, this could be a trusted friend or relative.
  •    Estate Taxes: Unless your estate exceeds the federal estate tax exclusion, you don’t fall under estate tax burden as a single person. Still, since the state level estate tax applies, you can benefit from being in a position to avoid a tax build up.
  •    Assets Transfer: Estate plans are essential to singles, as they allow them to chart out the ideal transfer of assets to the beneficiaries of choice, during the distribution of the assets.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Our Michigan Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Einheuser Legal, P.C. is an estate planning law firm in Bingham Farms, Michigan. We help families set up wills and living trusts. Attorney Michael Einheuser is an experienced estate planning lawyer serving residents in Bingham Farms, Troy, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Township.

Schedule your free consultation today by calling 248-398-4665.

5 Effective Asset Protection Strategies For Business Owners

Asset protection is a form of legal planning that incorporates other types of legal planning and fields such as management of risk. Asset protection planning is used by business owners to provide a good defense against creditors and litigants. Asset protection refers to the use of risk management products along with legally acceptable solutions to prevent a person’s wealth from being taken unjustly.

Timing is an important consideration if an asset protection plan is to be effective. While you can do some things after the filing of the lawsuit, it is always advisable to have the strategies and plan in place before they are required. One of the best ways to look at asset planning is to take it as a form of pre-litigation planning.

Asset Protection Strategies

Successful business owners can use a wide variety of asset protection strategies. High-quality liability insurance is usually the starting point. However, successful business owners have other advanced asset protection strategies that they can use including:

  1. Equity Stripping

It refers to the reduction of equity in a property such as a business. By reducing the amount of equity a successful business owner holds, he or she increases the chances of the assets not being included in a lawsuit. The successful business owner is still able to use cash flows from the assets.

  1. Private Placement Life Insurance

The wealth taken out of the business can be invested in such a way that owners and investors can keep the money out of the hands of litigants and creditors. Private placement life insurance is one example of this. Private placement life insurance refers to where alternative investments are tagged under a life insurance banner. This approach offers considerable tax benefits. It can provide meaningful asset protection from creditors and litigants depending on the jurisdiction.

  1. Captive Insurance Companies

Successful business owners find captive insurance companies quite appealing. They are created to help businesses insure themselves against certain risks. Captive insurance companies provide the benefit of asset protection along with the following benefits:

– Insuring risks that would have otherwise been too costly or otherwise uninsurable risks.

– Potential savings because of access to the reinsurance market

– Wealth accumulation capability in a tax-advantaged structure

– Tax deductions of the insurance premiums

  1. Qualified Retirement Plans

Qualified retirement plans can be highly effective asset protection plans. However, complications arise since most successful business owners find it difficult to amass significant amounts of money in such plans. However, defined benefit plans such as benefit-focused and cash-balance plans can be used to circumvent the problem.

  1. Offshore Asset Protection Trusts

Offshore asset protection trusts can be used for asset protection but require professional intervention to ensure that they are established and managed in the right way. The effectiveness of such trusts depends on how hard it is to obtain assets and get a judgment. It is critical to choose the correct jurisdiction in which to establish the trusts.

The Bottom Line

Successful business owners have a variety of effective asset protection strategies at their disposal. Irrespective of the choice of asset protection strategy, it is important that they address other legal and financial concerns besides asset protection and that their use is customized to the needs of successful business owners.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Our Michigan Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Einheuser Legal, P.C. is an estate planning law firm in Bingham Farms, Michigan. We help families set up wills and living trusts. Attorney Michael Einheuser is an experienced estate planning lawyer serving residents in Bingham Farms, Troy, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Township.

Schedule your free consultation today by calling 248-398-4665.

Why Should You Have A Trust For You & Your Loved Ones?

Many Americans completely misunderstand trusts. However, in the right circumstances, they can offer significant benefits to those that use them, especially when it comes to protecting the assets of the trust from the beneficiaries’ creditors.

Trusts can be incredibly complex, but their implications are always in the headlines. Read on to learn about the subject in a simplified manner and explain how trusts protect the creator as well as their beneficiaries.

Trusts are many different types, so the only ones discussed here are the two most common varieties. It is important to find an estate planning lawyer if you have questions about specific types of trusts or how you can apply the concepts to your situation.

Irrevocable Versus Revocable Trusts

Trusts are two basic types: irrevocable trusts and revocable trusts. Revocable trusts are the most common and are fully revocable at the request of the creator. The creator retains control over the assets transferred to a revocable trust and can revoke the trust and have the assets returned. Irrevocable trusts are not revocable by the creator. Revocable trusts, however, don’t offer the trust maker or creator asset protection.

Asset Protection for the Creator

Asset protection planning is designed to protect assets that are otherwise subject to creditors’ claims. A creditor can reach assets that a debtor owns but cannot reach assets that the debtor does not own. This is where a trust comes in.

If a trust creator makes an irrevocable trust of which he or she is a beneficiary, any assets transferred to that trust are not protected from the creditors of the creator. The rule applies regardless of whether the transfer was done to defraud existing creditors or not.

Until recently, a trust creator was required to establish the trust outside the U.S. to remain a beneficiary of the trust while still retaining protection against creditors for the assets of the trust. However, several states now allow domestic asset protection trusts.

In Utah, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Alaska, a trust creator can transfer assets to an irrevocable trust and still be a beneficiary of the trust. However, this does not work if the transfer was done to defraud creditors.

Asset Protection for Beneficiaries of the Trust

Revocable trusts don’t offer any asset protection for the trust creator during his or her life. However, upon the death of the creator, the trust becomes irrevocable as to the deceased trust creator’s property and can offer asset protection for beneficiaries with two key caveats.

–    The trust must retain ownership of the assets to continue offering asset protection. If assets are distributed to the beneficiary, they are no longer protected.

–    The more the rights a beneficiary has with regards to compelling trust distributions, the less the protection the trust offers since creditors can compel a distribution from the trust.

If asset protection is a significant concern, the trust creator should not give the beneficiary the right to automatic distributions. A better approach would be discretionary distributions by an independent trustee.

Final Thoughts

It is possible to protect assets from creditors by putting them in a properly drafted trust. You can protect beneficiaries from the claims of creditors by keeping the assets in a trust over the lifetime of the beneficiary. Working with wealth planning professionals ensures that your planning is in line with your objectives and goals.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Our Michigan Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Einheuser Legal, P.C. is an estate planning law firm in Bingham Farms, Michigan. We help families set up wills and living trusts. Attorney Michael Einheuser is an experienced estate planning lawyer serving residents in Bingham Farms, Troy, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Township.

Schedule your free consultation today by calling 248-398-4665.

Important Considerations Before Loaning Money To A Family Member

People typically lend to family members for various reasons. For instance, lending your daughter money so that she can start a new business or lending money to your son so that he can buy his first home. You might find yourself in such a situation at some point. It is thus important to understand how this might affect you from a tax perspective.

If you are planning to charge the borrower interest on the loan, you are required by law to pay income tax on the interest collected. The IRS expects you to charge interest when you lend money just as a bank would in spite of the fact that the recipient is a family member.

Bearing this in mind, the IRS has set an Applicable Federal Rate (AFR) which varies based on the term of the loan as well as the month. If you visit the IRS website, you will find a list of Applicable Federal Rates, by the month. If you fail to charge interest on the loan, the IRS regards it as a “gift loan,” which means that special rules will come into effect.

Loans of less than $10,000 between individuals are typically disregarded. If you do charge interest but less than the AFR for loans between $10,000 and $100,000, the difference will be considered a gift for which you are required to pay a gift tax for should your total annual gift tax exceed 14,000.

If the loan is more than $100,000, the IRS will consider the foregone interest a gift and will also assume automatically that you received the foregone interest as an interest payment, which means that you will be required to pay income tax on the money.

For example, you lend your son $150,000 in a 5-year interest-free loan with a 2.85 percent AFR, the IRS will assume that you have been receiving interest amounting to $4,275 each year. You will subsequently be required to pay income tax on the amount each year. If you are a person with a combined 40 percent state and federal income tax rate, the net effect would be $1,710 in extra taxes each year.

However, it is possible to get around this, like using an Irrevocable Trust. You can set up your Trust such that any transactions between the Trust and yourself are not regarded as income. For this reason, if you lend the Trust $150,000, the IRS would only ignore the foregone interest when it is calculating tax liability. The foregone interest can still be regarded as a gift, but it is possible to design the Trust so that a gift to the Trust is considered to be a gift to a family member. The annual gift tax exclusion has been stuck at $14,000 since 2014.

The Bottom Line

If you are thinking about loaning money to someone, it is important to consult with an experienced and qualified estate planning lawyer to make sure that you structure your loans in such a way that they don’t generate extra taxation of your income.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Our Michigan Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Einheuser Legal, P.C. is an estate planning law firm in Bingham Farms, Michigan. We help families set up wills and living trusts. Attorney Michael Einheuser is an experienced estate planning lawyer serving residents in Bingham Farms, Troy, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Township.

Schedule your free consultation today by calling 248-398-4665.

Estate Planning Tips Everyone in Michigan Should Read

Whether you are advanced in age, or you are still reveling in your youth, it is a good idea to start planning for the future. Unfortunately, many people pass away without doing this, and it leaves their families in a lurch. Here are a few tips that will ensure you are prepared well ahead of time.

You should make plans even if you feel you do not have much to offer those who will remain after you pass away. The last thing you want is to have your loved ones fighting over things like clothing and antiques when they are also in the throes of grieving over your demise. Make sure that even the little things are mentioned, so there will not be any disputes later.

Put everything in writing. Going to a friend and letting them know your wishes is not enough. It is best to have everything written down and notarized so there is no way that anyone can go against your wishes. It is very hard to overturn a person’s last will when it is clear they were in the right state of mind when everything was signed, which means it is likely things will turn out just as you intended.

Think carefully before you start making plans. Many people allow emotions to get the best of them and they cut others off due to minor disputes. Every time you make significant changes, keep in mind that there may be a time when you are no longer there to rescind this. If you have mixed feelings concerning this, you should probably leave it as is.

Many families in Michigan head into probate court to battle over estates every day. If you want to avoid this fate, then make sure that you seek the advice of a Michigan estate planning attorney and follow all of the advice offered here.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Our Michigan Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Einheuser Legal, P.C. is an estate planning law firm in Bingham Farms, Michigan. We help families set up wills and living trusts. Attorney Michael Einheuser is an experienced estate planning lawyer serving residents in Bingham Farms, Troy, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Township. Schedule your free consultation today by calling 248-398-4665.

How To Select An Elder Law Attorney In Michigan

As you get older, there are financial, legal, and personal challenges that come your way that might become a serious problem in the long run. For the past few years, numerous laws and regulations have impacted these problems significantly. The elder law covers all the legal issues that you might deal with when approaching your elderly years. Most people address these issues through nursing home placement, estate planning, and long-term care planning. This law is rapidly growing in Michigan, and it encompasses different fields. Only experts in this field can help you fix all your problems, which is why you need the services of a Michigan elder law attorney.

If you are not familiar with what a good elder attorney is, check his or her activities in the elder law sections on their state bar to ensure their credibility. You can see if they are active on organizations or committees and if they have been officers in that particular group. He or she must also be a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. If ever your selected lawyer has no involvement in any groups, see another expert.

The most important thing to be considered before hiring an elder law attorney is that you must be comfortable working with that person. No matter what his or her credentials are, when you are not comfortable, choose another lawyer. Some law firms have a review section on their website in which their past clients indicate the experience they had in dealing with them.

Also, you might have a relative or friend who had to seek help from an elder law attorney. Ask them for the contact number and set an appointment with that expert. If you are still not satisfied with that person, do extensive research, and you will surely find a lawyer that you can trust with your family matters.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Our Michigan Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Einheuser Legal, P.C. is an estate planning law firm in Bingham Farms, Michigan. We help families set up wills and living trusts. Attorney Michael Einheuser is an experienced estate planning lawyer serving residents in Bingham Farms, Troy, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Township. Schedule your free consultation today by calling 248-398-4665.

Guidelines For Your Estate Planning In Bingham Farms, Michigan

Irrespective of whether you have a sizeable estate or not, it is important to have an effective estate plan if you wish to ensure that the right persons will inherit your assets. Your plan will additionally help to restrict the amount of tax your successor will owe. Perhaps you may find the following ideas helpful if you are living in Bingham Farms, Michigan, even when you currently have an estate plan set up.

Mention Who Receives What

For those who neglect to prepare a will for themselves, the laws and regulations that govern your residence decide who inherits your properties. This consists of nonmonetary assets that you might give some thought to the disposition significant, like antiques and classic cars you highly value or maybe the piece of precious jewelry your beloved niece constantly admires.

Decide On Exactly How Your Assets Should Be Distributed

If ever you plan to include a few of your assets designated to cover particular expenses, you might need to set up a trust that incorporates such specifications. One example is wanting to earmark certain amounts for college fees and special needs for selected individuals. The trustee of your plan will be lawfully bound to make certain that the amounts designated are utilized to cover these costs.

Reduce Estate and Income Tax Liabilities

You might anticipate that your named beneficiaries will be obligated to pay certain amounts of the estate and income tax on their inheritance, reducing these taxes by employing some strategies is feasible. In particular, you could donate taxable properties to your chosen charities and give your tax-free assets, after tax savings, or life insurance policies to your inheritors.

Also, you may lessen the amount of your taxable estate by gifting an amount $14,000 or less for each beneficiary per year while you are alive, and the gift will be nontaxable.

Planning on the details of your estate and finalizing all pertaining documents will depend on you and your chosen Bingham Farms estate planning attorney. One thing is certain though, being able to prepare for all eventualities will give your loved one’s confidence that you are taking control of their future instead of leaving several factors to chance.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Our Michigan Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Einheuser Legal, P.C. is an estate planning law firm in Bingham Farms, Michigan. We help families set up wills and living trusts. Attorney Michael Einheuser is an experienced estate planning lawyer serving residents in Bingham Farms, Troy, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Township. Schedule your free consultation today by calling 248-398-4665.

3 Elder Law Tips Everyone in Michigan Should Read

Many people are not aware of the laws that are in place to protect those who are advanced in age. If you would like to gain some insight, it would be a good idea to continue reading.

  1. Get A Power Of Attorney

If you are in charge of taking care of someone who is elderly, you need to discuss having them sign a power of attorney. This will give you the authority to make decisions on their behalf. Even if the person is still functional at this time, they can sign the paper and stipulate that it only goes into effect if they are no longer able to function well.

  1. A Will Is Crucial

Telling someone your last wishes may seem like enough, but the reality is that it is not. There is nothing worse than having someone pass away believing that everything will be okay and their loved ones are left fighting over property and other belongings. Even if you think that your family will be fine once you are gone, and everything will be civil, you should have a will drawn up anyway.

  1. Have A Medical Proxy Assigned

Some people think that this is the same as power of attorney, but it isn’t. There are many people whose medical proxy and power of attorney are two different people. This is a separate document that allows people to make medical decisions if you cannot do this on your own. Make sure the person you select is very knowledgeable about the choices you would make if you were able to do so.

If you or a loved one are elderly, it is important to begin getting your legal paperwork with the help of a Bingham Farms elder law attorney in order. Keep all of this information in mind as you move forward.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with Our Michigan Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Einheuser Legal, P.C. is an estate planning law firm in Bingham Farms, Michigan. We help families set up wills and living trusts. Attorney Michael Einheuser is an experienced estate planning lawyer serving residents in Bingham Farms, Troy, Farmington Hills, Rochester Hills, Southfield, West Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Township. Schedule your free consultation today by calling 248-398-4665.