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Michigan Estate Planning Questions & Answers
1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on
Q: How do I fill out the "payable to" blank on estate check when the recipients are minor children?

I am the personal representative of my daughter's estate. She is divorced and I have about $40,000 to be divided equally between two minor children. When I write the check to the father from the estate account, how do I fill out the "payable to" blank? (Michigan)

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
answered on Jan 24, 2022

You probably don't write the check to the father!

You need to have an attorney review the estate to make sure you're proceeding properly.

You may need to create a trust, or the father may need to open a conservatorship or a restricted bank account depending on how things...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on
Q: How do you maintain tax deferred status of pension check made out to an estate if recipients are minors?

minor children will be recipients of a lump sum pension check that will have tax deferred status, I think. Assuming the father will receive and control this money, (pension money is from divorced, deceased mother of minor children) I, as the representative will be transferring the money over. If I... Read more »

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
answered on Jan 9, 2022

The tax status of 'pensions' is defined by law, and with the exception of surviving spouses, you cannot defer the taxes for long. If a NATURAL PERSON is named as a beneficiary, there is a possibility of extending the tax 'window' but minimum distributions are required each year,... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on
Q: If a son who is married leaves his 401K to his mother?

My son a couple years ago not sure why but, laughed and told me one day when he passed i would become a rich woman because, he had just made me beneficiary to his 401 k. i ask this because he passed from cancer recently . during a conversation with his wife who told me he had left his 401 k to... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
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Nina Whitehurst
answered on Jan 2, 2022

You have multiple options, but there is not enough information here to suggest the one that is optimal. My best advice would be to contact an estate planning attorney for assistance. He or she will want to take into account your age, the ages of the children, their maturity and financial acumen,... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Michigan on
Q: Am I correct that assets that name beneficiaries" DO NOT" pass through probate?

If I am correct how does a beneficiary uncover what happened to the assets that they were named as beneficiary on? For example abuse of process, forgery, elder abuse, etc. Also, the entity holding the assets what duty did they have to notify each beneficiary?

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
answered on Dec 22, 2021

The short answer to your direct question is 'yes'. Property with named beneficiaries does not pass through probate and is instead transferred directly to the beneficiary with the provisions in place by the asset holder (usually a request and a certified copy of the death certificate) to... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on
Q: my mother died and her will was changed when she got sick
Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
answered on Dec 20, 2021

Provided her illness didn't impact her mental abilities, there is nothing necessarily improper about the facts you state. If you have questions, I would urge you to consult with a local probate and estate planning attorney ASAP.

-- This answer is offered for informational purposes only...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Michigan on
Q: What can be done to remain on Medicaid if you received a check for $7000 from the death of a parent.

Special needs person living on SS, is low income & on Medicaid. He received a $7000 check after his mother died. We are trying to find out what we can do so he doesn't get kicked off Medicaid. This money is everything he has in the world. He can't afford medical insurance and... Read more »

Nina Whitehurst
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Nina Whitehurst
answered on Dec 15, 2021

Whatever he does, he shouldn’t transfer the money to your sister. That would be considered in uncompensated transfer and would generate a penalty period And he will not have the funds to pay through that period of ineligibility. The easiest solution is to spend the money quickly on services such... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on
Q: Could someone answer my question?

Hello,

Is there a way for an heir to find out outside of court how assets left to them in their name was distributed?

Thank you.

Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
answered on Dec 13, 2021

Not sure what you are asking. Were assets left by will or beneficiary designation? If by will, then the person to contact would be the personal representative. The court resolves conflicts in distribution but generally does not supervise the actual distribution.

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Michigan on
Q: Best friend of 34 years passed away on 11/09/2021 I am beneficiary. How do I start to collect.??? Family blocked me
Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
answered on Dec 10, 2021

Beneficiary of what? If you are named as beneficiary you should be able directly with the financial institutions or probate court.

HOWEVER — without seeing the paperwork it is impossible to provide any really cogent advice and that really would be beyond the scope of a forum like this....
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3 Answers | Asked in Divorce, Estate Planning, Family Law and Tax Law for Michigan on
Q: Can wife and I establish a family trust as co-trustees regarding properties that can withstand an uncontested divorce?
Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
answered on Dec 7, 2021

It is unclear what you are trying to accomplish.

A divorce will ALWAYS impact jointly owned property, and the fact it is placed in a 'trust' for some estate planning or administrative purpose doesn't mean a divorce court shouldn't or couldn't 'delve into'...
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1 Answer | Asked in Tax Law, Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Michigan on
Q: Is there a way to pass on a property my S. Corp owns to my children without uncapping property tax?

I am the sole owner of my S. Corp.

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
answered on Dec 7, 2021

You have asked a fairly complex question that requires the review of both a lawyer and a tax specialist (that may be one person or if you have a tax accountant it may be two).

Off hand, I'd say it depends on what the property is used for. Residential? Commercial? Rental? And what does...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on
Q: Hi, my uncle had left me a tractor. The loan was agenst his savings. So the savings payed the loan. Im told now that

I have to pay the loan. He put it in writing that it was to be mine. Am i leaglly resonsible for the loan. Even though his savings payed for it? My cousin says i owe her the money.

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
answered on Nov 26, 2021

Without seeing the documents (the will and the loan documents) it is impossible to say. GENERALLY when there is a lien against a piece of property the person 'inheriting' it needs to pay the loan. SOME wills specify loans should be paid from the estate first and any inheritance is made... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on
Q: I have an irrevocable trust I would like to gain access to. Is there any legal way to do so.

I am the beneficiary of an irrevocable trust that my father left. The terms are pretty simple. I get 4% a year from the trust, plush 18k/yr for medical, at the banks discretion. The trust began at a bank that has since switched companies 3 times and is now Huntington Bank. When I have asked in the... Read more »

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
answered on Nov 22, 2021

You can use one of the several companies (some more reputable than others) that will buy an annuity or other 'stream of payments' like you receive from this trust at a 'discount' and pay you cash up front. This will likely turn out to be MORE Than 5% interest you're paying... Read more »

1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on
Q: My grandmother recently died and she has trust in which her house is a part of. My aunt is the beneficiary. Can I see it

My mother (daughter of grandmother) is no longer living as well. Do I receive any portion that my mother would have gotten from the Trust

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
answered on Oct 25, 2021

Without seeing the trust it is impossible to answer your question.

You should ask your aunt to get a copy of the trust and then take it to an attorney to review and you will be able to get those answers.

— this answer is offered for information only and does not constitute legal...
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1 Answer | Asked in Estate Planning and Tax Law for Michigan on
Q: What would happen to my mother if she added her grandson to a house title and he would give her $40,000 cash
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
answered on Oct 4, 2021

Nothing; although there may be some unpleasant consequences down the road to your mother's estate or what other family members expect to happen.

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on
Q: Is the beneficiary of a will obligated to take what is offered to them?
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
answered on Sep 27, 2021

Depends on what you mean by "obligated". You can reject a gift - called a disclaimer. But there is generally no negotiating; the personal representative must present to you what the will says you are entitled to - no more or less.

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on
Q: My house is only in my late wife’s name. Can I put the house in my name without going through probate?
Don L Rosenberg
Don L Rosenberg
answered on Sep 8, 2021

First my condolences on the loss of your wife. Unfortunately not. However, you can file an application for probate with or without a will. You will be appointed personal representative to manage your wife's affairs. if there are no objections or complications the probate should be... Read more »

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1 Answer | Asked in Probate and Estate Planning for Michigan on
Q: Executor sold estate house to bro. Executor and 1 other brother got paid. So brother can flip house.

Leaving me and my 2 sons out of the what will states. More. 2 1/2 yrs. Had an attorney for 2 yrs, got all discovery, to then in 5 minutes got taken away because attorney wasn't filing subpoenas with court. Tried representing self,for now I'm in debt with fees. Between estate lawyer and... Read more »

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
answered on Aug 13, 2021

It sounds like you already had an attorney that you fired/didn't pay? Without seeing ALL the paperwork and doing the research on this long case, it is impossible to provide any real guidance. I would suggest either going back to the attorney you had, or if you believe he did something improper... Read more »

2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Michigan on
Q: Dad passed on 05/01/2021. Can the wife of 30 years play favorites to the beneficiaries? My dad made a Will in 2004.

Dad deceased 05/01/2021; he did a Will in 2004 naming his 4 children as beneficiaries; upon the wife selling the home his last wishes were to give each one of us (his 4 children) $20,000. But after selling the home she only gave 2 of the children $20, 000 and did not give the other two children... Read more »

Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
answered on Aug 12, 2021

This is a very fact-dependent situation. If your dad and his wife owned the house as joint tenants, then it's sale is not subject to the terms of the will. Once your dad passed, the house became his wife's by operation of law, for her to do with as she pleases. She effectively made gifts... Read more »

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2 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning for Michigan on
Q: I own my home outright in MI. I'm 70, want to leave it to my wife and 2 sons. My name is the only one on the deed.

Can I just add their names to the deed. I hear a living trust cost $2500. Wouldn't adding their names be the cheapest easiest way?

Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
answered on Aug 3, 2021

There are far less expensive and more appropriate ways to accomplish your pal, but ‘just putting their name on the deed’ is not one of them.

Please consult with a local estate planning attorney to review ‘ladybird’ deeds or other options. Sometimes a will us counterintuitively...
Read more »

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3 Answers | Asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Michigan on
Q: Purchase agreement signed and homeowner passed away. House was in a trust. Given to one trustee as a life estate.

In the process of buying a home. Trustee passed away after purchase agreement signed. Other trustee alive. Home was given as life estate to the one that passed. Trust stated he could sell and had to share profit with any living trustees. (Sister gets 1/3). Is the purchase agreement still valid?

Nina Whitehurst
PREMIUM
Nina Whitehurst
answered on Jul 30, 2021

The most likely outcome is the successor trustee is contractually bound to complete the sale of the house and distribute the proceeds in accordance with the terms of the trust.

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