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Do you own property as joint tenants? Have you considered the planning pitfalls of this way of owning property? Ownership as joint tenants is so pervasive in our society that we don’t look at its downsides. In joint tenancy, each person owns the entire asset, not a part of the asset. This legal fiction of two or more people owning 100 percent of the same asset is derived from the full name given to joint tenancy: joint tenancy with right of...

A recent article published on wealthmanagement.com[1] focuses on the importance of making final arrangements prior to death. The article highlights famous cases of Anna Nicole Smith, Ted Williams, and Mickey Rooney.  In each, the families fought over the deceased burial wishes. In Michigan, a recently updated law (MCL 700.1104 et al.) allows a person to designate a funeral representative who would have the right and power to make decisions about funeral arrangements and the handling, disposition, or disinterment of the person’s...

The headline reads: Michigan mother-of-two 'stole $200,000 from life insurance policy her teen daughters received when their father died' The headline leaves us asking, “how did this happen and why would a mom do this?” After reading the story, we learn that the mother was divorced from the father and then the father passes away leaving his minor children as the beneficiary on the life insurance policy. Since minors cannot inherit until 18, a conservator was appointed to manage the money. In...