Ferri Law PLLC https://ferrilawpllc.com Estate & Business Planning Attorney Wed, 26 Feb 2020 15:32:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4 https://ferrilawpllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/cropped-mfa-2-32x32.jpg Ferri Law PLLC https://ferrilawpllc.com 32 32 What Are you Doing with the Extra Day this Leap Year? https://ferrilawpllc.com/what-are-you-doing-with-the-extra-day-this-leap-year/ Wed, 26 Feb 2020 15:31:59 +0000 https://ferrilawpllc.com/?p=692 Leap years occur almost every 4 years, so our calendars remain in sync with astronomical time. It takes the Earth 365.242 days to rotate around the sun and without leap years we would lose an average of 6 hours each year.[1] So, the extra day exists to keep our seasons aligned, but it can also be beneficial for you in other ways as well.

The extra day can be time you spend catching up with loved ones you haven’t seen in a while. It can be used to relax and rejuvenate before heading into March. You can take time to work on tasks you’ve put off so far this year. Or you can use the day to get organized and start planning for your future.

Part of the extra day could be spent thinking about your personal health. Having a plan in place *before* an actual medical emergency is critical. This helps ensure your wishes are followed, and you receive the kinds of treatment you want. Some things to consider include:

  • Who you would name as a healthcare agent – this is a role designated in a healthcare power of attorney, given to a person you trust to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself;
  • Who you would grant HIPAA authorizations to – these authorizations enable your loved ones to obtain information from medical professionals, which is necessary if they have to make a medical decision for you; and,
  • What types of treatment you would like in different scenarios – whether you would like to receive life support, artificial feeding, or be resuscitated are all personal decisions and decisions that may change depending on what situation you are in. These are included in advanced directives or living wills and provide information to your loved ones in the event they have to make choices for you.

Another thing you could on the extra day is set aside time to start making financial plans. Some things you could do in this time include:

  • Consider who you would name as a financial agent – this role is granted in a financial power of attorney to someone you trust to make financial or legal decisions for you if you were no longer able to make them for yourself;
  • Gather information – having an idea of the different bank, investment and retirement accounts you (or your spouse) have, whose name the house and any vehicles are titled in, and what kinds of insurance you have can make it easier to plan and easier on your love ones if they ever have to take control; and,
  • Consider who you would like to inherit, when you would like them to inherit and how – for some this may be an easy decision, you’d want everything to go to your spouse or equally to your children. For others, more thought may have to go into it. Would you want your children to receive equal shares? Would any of your potential beneficiaries need financial advice before receiving a lump sum of money? If they are younger beneficiaries, would you even want them to receive a lump sum or would you rather any inheritance be held in trust until they are at a point where they are fiscally responsible to handle it. 

Our firm has always stressed the value of proactively planning. Having a personalized plan in place can help prevent unnecessary stress, expenses, and disputes. It can also make sure your wishes are carried out and make it easier on your family should the need for them to step in arise.

We hope everyone enjoys one extra day to learn something new, spend time with friends and family, or seek new opportunities. For those who want to learn more about estate planning, please contact us, (248) 409-0256, to schedule the next step. We offer a complimentary initial consultation where we’ll discuss our process, the strategies and tools we use in our practice, and how it all can benefit you.

[1] https://www.timeanddate.com/date/leap-day.html

2020 Resolutions https://ferrilawpllc.com/2020-resolutions/ Mon, 06 Jan 2020 21:32:33 +0000 https://ferrilawpllc.com/?p=643 Many people wait until February to start their “new year’s” resolutions and use January to develop a concrete plan instead. This includes gathering information and resources ahead of time, breaking up larger goals into smaller achievements, and mapping out different ways for everything to work together. Forming a plan for your goals can help you stick with them and with 80% of people stopping their resolutions by February, getting organized and ready may just lead to a greater likelihood of success.[i]

One major goal you could work towards this year is to take the time to plan for your future. Making sure you have an up to date estate plan in place can save you and your loved one’s time, money, and frustration down the road.

In getting organized, we recommend you start with the basics. Think about who would be involved in your plan, what roles you would want them to perform, if any, or what you may like to give them.  Your beginning considerations may include –

Who – The people in your plan who will:

  • Help manage your finances and health care decisions if you cannot
  • Inherit
  • Take care of minor children
  • Act as your professionals – CPA/Accountant, Financial Advisor, Attorney

What – The possessions in your plan

  • Take an inventory of what you own – from bank accounts to valuables
  • Beneficiary designations on accounts

How – The documents that contain the details of your plan

  • Trusts, wills, powers of attorney, deeds
  • Instructions to loved ones on health care 
  • Instructions to financial institutions on beneficiaries

Where – The place to find this information

  • Is this stored in a safe deposit box?
  • Is this organized at home?
  • Do you have a list of your current assets?

When – Make a resolution in 2020 to create or update your plan

  • Has there been a change in your health?
  • Have there been changes in kids, grandkids, relatives, anyone listed in your estate plan, etc.?
  • Is your estate plan (trust) fully funded?

Why – Unique to the individual

  • To have a plan in place so loved ones know your wishes
  • To avoid probate or save on taxes
  • To protect minor children

An estate plan starts with sound education and planning. Looking at the list above may be overwhelming, but its more than likely you already know most of the answers and just need the right resources to implement them. We offer a free initial consultation to learn more about our process, how it can help you, and how it can protect your loved ones.

If you want to start your planning, you can reach us at (248) 409-0256.

[i] https://www.businessinsider.com/how-long-to-keep-a-new-years-resolution-2018-12

Year End Gifting https://ferrilawpllc.com/year-end-gifting/ Fri, 20 Dec 2019 14:34:52 +0000 https://ferrilawpllc.com/?p=641 With the holidays fast approaching, giving is a topic on many minds, including considering what to gift to loved ones or finding a charity to donate to. Each year the IRS recognizes a gift tax exclusion. This is the amount an individual can gift to someone else or an entity without using any of their $11.4 million lifetime exemption amount, and without the necessity of filing a Form 709 Gift Tax Return.

The annual gift tax exclusion amount for 2019 is $15,000. A spouse may join in this gift by selecting to “gift split” with their spouse and thus gift double this amount to a $30,000 gift to any individual or entity.

When considering gifts and donations, it is a great time to explore personal values as well as uncover the values held by children and grandchildren individually and by the family as a whole. By modeling philanthropic behavior at home for their children and grandchildren, parents can influence them to have a sense of social responsibility toward those who need our help. This behavior encompasses not only writing checks to causes we care about, but also volunteerism – taking the kids along on the midnight run, cleaning up parks and other public areas, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or whatever the family cause happens to be.

Part of the work we do, is help guide families to define and develop these goals. We ask clients to think about what values and messages they want to leave for their kids, grandkids, and other relatives.  These messages can add greater meaning to what we are leaving behind.

As always please contact us, (248) 409-0256, with any questions you may have.

As You Travel this Holiday Season . . . https://ferrilawpllc.com/as-you-travel-this-holiday-season/ Fri, 22 Nov 2019 21:28:01 +0000 https://ferrilawpllc.com/?p=636 It is estimated that over 55 million Americans will kick off the holiday season by traveling to a family member’s or on a getaway this Thanksgiving.[1]  Holidays are a great time to see loved ones and learn about what everyone has been doing. And, with the hecticness it may seem easier to put off topics like estate planning until the new year, but the holidays are actually a great time to consider the matter.

Traveling can prompt discussions to ensure you have a plan in place in case of an accident. Topics to consider before setting off include:

  • Creating a power of attorney for finances that identifies who you would want to make financial and legal decisions for you if you were no longer able to;
  • Naming a health care representative who would make medical decisions for you if you were no longer able to;
  • Selecting individuals to have HIPAA authorizations so they can receive necessary medical information;
  • Documenting what your health care wishes would be under various circumstances with advanced directives; and,
  • Naming guardians for minor children.

While the conversations may be daunting, discussing these topics with family ahead of time can help loved ones take over should they need to. Our firm recognizes the value of planning proactively. We use estate planning tools that allow individuals to create personalized plans that keep them in control while they can be, select who would take over control when they are no longer able to handle everything, dictate how they want their belongings to be distributed, and protect loved ones. A proactive discussion keeps family members informed about the planning you’ve already done, your wishes, and where they can find any important documents in case of emergency. 

The holidays also provide an excellent opportunity to discuss other family matters as everyone is gathered together.  While you are together you could consider what your goals are for now and into the future, what you would want your great-grandkids to remember about you and your family, and what memories or traditions you would like to share with future generations. Discussing these topics and sharing your ideas, values, and life’s legacies with your family now may help them after you’re gone. It can help strengthen family connections and enrich your children’s and grandchildren’s lives, adding to their perspective of how you wish to see them grow and prosper. 

For more information about planning techniques, please contact our office at (248) 409-0256. We offer a free initial consultation to learn more about our process.

[1] https://newsroom.aaa.com/tag/thanksgiving-travel-forecast/

Proactively Planning for Dementia https://ferrilawpllc.com/proactively-planning-for-dementia/ Wed, 06 Nov 2019 15:05:06 +0000 https://ferrilawpllc.com/?p=632 As loved ones age, their physical and mental abilities change. They may not be as quick or sharp as they once were, they may have mood swings, and they may need more help taking care of themselves. But there is a difference between the general decline individuals can experience as they age and the decline someone can experience if living with dementia. The following are signs of dementia provided by the Alzheimer’s Association that caretakers may encounter:

  • Memory loss – the kind that goes beyond occasionally forgetting a name or appointment and then recalling it later. Instead, it’s forgetting recently learned information, important dates, or repeatedly asking for or relaying the same information;
  • Challenges with planning and problem-solving – having difficulty organizing get-togethers with loved ones, balancing a checkbook, or keeping track of monthly bills;
  • Problems with words – not being able to follow a conversation, or having difficulty in coming up with the right word for an object;
  • Uncertainty regarding time or place – getting lost driving to familiar places, or not knowing where they are even in their own home;
  • Declining judgement – buying unnecessary items, or taking actions they wouldn’t otherwise do like wiring money overseas as a result of a scam;
  • Decline in executive function – having difficulty with organizational skills, and skills that regulate cognitive ability and behavior;
  • Mood changes – this could include regularly becoming upset or fearful when they cannot recognize their loved ones or surroundings, it may also lead to paranoia or accusations that loved ones are stealing things that have been misplaced;
  • Visual impairment – having problems with spatial awareness, they might see darker colors in carpet patterns as holes, and might trip and fall on curbs or rugs;
  • Withdrawal from social activities – no longer wanting to be involved in social settings or hobbies they previously enjoyed or ignoring someone who is trying to talk to them.

Being able to identify these possible warning signs can help protect your loved ones. It can lead to conversations with healthcare providers about what kinds of treatments are available and what kinds of obstacles your loved ones and you might face in dealing with the diagnosis.

Making plans before a diagnosis of dementia can aid in the transition period. Our firm recognizes the value of being able to plan proactively, rather than trying to play catch up after a diagnosis. We use estate planning tools that allow individuals to create personalized plans where they are in control of their assets until they are no longer able to be; that allow them to select who will make the determination that they are no longer able to be in control; and, that allow them to select who is then put in control over their assets. We also use tools, like advanced directives, that enable individuals to document their health care wishes. So, before anything happens or any deterioration occurs, they have thought about and discussed with their healthcare agents what types of treatments they would like to receive under various conditions. Having a personalized plan in place beforehand can help ensure you are getting the type of treatment you want and that your wishes will be followed.

For more information about planning proactively and to learn about the tools we use, please contact our office at (248) 409-0256. We offer a free initial consultation to learn more about our process.

Estate Planning Awareness Week 2019 https://ferrilawpllc.com/estate-planning-awareness-week-2019/ Mon, 21 Oct 2019 20:41:48 +0000 https://ferrilawpllc.com/?p=628 In September of 2008, Congressional leaders passed House Resolution 1499 declaring the third week in October as “National Estate Planning Awareness Week.” Resolution 1499 estimated over 120,000,000 Americans did not have up-to-date estate plans to protect themselves or their families in the event of sickness, accidents, or untimely death.

More recently a 2019 survey, carried out by Caring.com, found 57% of adults in the United States have not prepared any estate planning documents such as a will or trust, despite the fact that 76% of the surveyed adults viewed them as important.[1]  Many said this was due to procrastination, but others mistakenly believed that it was not necessary because they did not have many assets. Either way, Estate Planning Awareness Week provides an opportunity to think of where your current plan is at, if you have one, and how making or updating your plan could benefit you or more accurately reflect your wishes.

Why should you have an estate plan?

An estate plan can provide significant peace of mind by ensuring your assets are protected, plans are in place in the event you become ill, and your property is passed down according to your wishes.

What key topics should you consider?

  • Do you have a trust or a will? If you do not have these documents, state law will determine who will inherit your property—and therefore, it may not occur in the way you would have chosen. Also, someone appointed by the court, instead of a trusted person of your choosing, will oversee caring for any children or pets. Spelling out your wishes in a will or trust will help prevent unnecessary confusion, anxiety, and expense for family members when you are gone.
  • Have the proper powers of attorney been prepared? A financial power of attorney will allow you to designate an individual to make financial and property decisions for you should you become unable to handle your own affairs. A medical power of attorney enables you to designate a person you trust to make medical decisions for you when you are otherwise unable to speak for yourself. You should also ensure HIPAA authorizations are in place with medical professionals to enable your family members to obtain needed information.
  • Make sure that you have an advanced directive, also called a living will, which memorializes your wishes concerning your end of life care, such as whether you would like to receive life support if you are in a vegetative state or terminal condition.
  • Compile a list of all of your accounts and other important information, including bank and investment accounts, titles to vehicles and homes, insurance information, credit card accounts or loans, digital accounts (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) and passwords, Social Security cards, passports and birth certificates, which may be needed to manage your property when you are incapacitated or settle your estate once you are gone. This information should be kept in a safe place and shared only with trusted family members or loved ones.

Consult an estate planning attorney. Resolution 1499 recognized “the implementation of an estate plan starts with sound education and planning,” and then drafting of legal documents.  Our office couldn’t agree more, and we encourage you to educate yourself about estate planning. We can help you and your family members create an estate plan tailored to meet your unique needs and carry out your wishes—or help you update a pre-existing estate plan. We can provide family members with guidance and information about the options available to them. And, we can help you put a plan in place that will prevent unnecessary stress, legal expenses and taxes, uneven inheritances, disputes between family members, and delays in passing life savings on to loved ones. In addition, it will provide you and your family members with the peace of mind that comes with knowing there are plans in place for your care if any of you become ill and that your wishes will be honored once you pass away.

For information about estate planning and how it can benefit you, please contact our office, (248) 409-0256. We offer a free initial consultation to learn more about our process.

[1] https://www.caring.com/caregivers/estate-planning/wills-survey/

How Car Accidents Impact Estate Planning https://ferrilawpllc.com/how-car-accidents-impact-estate-planning/ Fri, 11 Oct 2019 19:21:16 +0000 https://ferrilawpllc.com/?p=625 Car accidents have unfortunately become a common occurrence. According to Michigan State Police, there were 312,798 car accidents in 2018, which resulted in over 75,000 people being injured[1]. These injuries can lead to emergency room visits, extended hospitalizations, physical therapy, missed work, and they can also wreak havoc on your accounts and assets if you have not properly planned for your future.

Lawsuits can be, and often are, filed over car accidents. These will likely result in the person who was injured being owed money from the person who was at fault.  Not properly planning for your assets can make it possible for creditors to reach those assets or accounts that was supposed to go to your loved ones after you pass away.

Take for example, a husband and wife who have not created any kind of estate plan yet. When the husband passes away, all the assets titled in his name will pass through probate to the wife. If the wife later hits a school bus filled with children causing injuries, a lawsuit would be filed and eventually a judgment will be issued against her. A typical car insurance policy would not provide adequate liability protection for a situation such as this, so money will have to come out of wife’s pocket, including everything the husband worked hard to earn for their family that she received through probate.

A Potential Solution

This case raises the important question, “How can I keep my hard-earned money away from my spouse’s, children’s or other beneficiaries’ creditors after I’m gone?”

The answer is making sure you take the time to properly plan for the future.

If bankruptcy or general creditor protection for your beneficiaries is something you want, you can create a trust and fund your accounts into the trust or name it as the beneficiary for your accounts, such as your life insurance and IRA’s.

A properly drafted trust that meets certain requirements and contains appropriate language can help safeguard the trust assets, while still allowing the trust to stretch distributions from the inherited IRA over the beneficiary’s life expectancy.

In our example, if the husband created a trust where the wife and their children are the named beneficiaries, he can write the terms in such a way that she is able to maintain control and keep creditors at bay from the funds in the trust. Accounts in her name only will be available to cover the cost of the accident lawsuit, while his hard-earned money is saved for the family’s benefit.

To learn about different estate planning methods and how they can benefit you, please contact our office at (248) 409-0256. We offer a free initial consultation to learn more about our process.

[1] https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/2018_Year-End_for_Web_653222_7.pdf

Financial Planning Month https://ferrilawpllc.com/financial-planning-month/ Fri, 04 Oct 2019 18:32:01 +0000 https://ferrilawpllc.com/?p=617 October is Financial Planning Month, a time to check in on any financial goals you may have made this year. Maybe your goal was focusing on becoming more fiscally responsible, maybe you wanted to save for a big purchase or vacation. Or, perhaps it was looking at ways you could plan for your future, your retirement, and your family’s future.

Another way to plan for your future and your retirement is through estate planning. Our method of estate planning focuses on how our clients can remain in control throughout the various stages of life. That’s why our definition of estate planning is:

I Want to Control My Property While I’m Alive and Well

To Plan for Me and My Loved Ones if I Become Disabled

Then Give What I Have:

  • To Whom I Want
  • When I Want
  • The Way I Want

All While Assuring My Wisdom is Transferred Along with the Rest of My Wealth.

By proactively discussing what is to happen if you are unable to make decisions for finances and health care, you can start to put a plan in place and take control of the situation before you lose control.

For achieving an estate plan that works, it is essential that your advisors and attorneys work together. This partnership ensures that your assets are properly included in your estate plan. Funding the estate plan is a crucial step in planning. By funding, we mean, transferring your assets into to the name of your trust and designating beneficiaries on accounts and policies. Taking this step, you’re ensuring you remain in control over your assets. Without this collaboration your wishes and instructions will not be met. 

Just like any plan you make, once it is in place, it is important to review the plan regularly and make sure it continues to be accurate. That way, your spouse, children, loved ones or the charities you want to pass your assets on to are benefitting in the way you intended.

To discuss our estate planning method and how it can benefit you, please contact our office at (248) 409-0256. We offer a free initial consultation to learn more about our process.

Estate Planning for Young Adults https://ferrilawpllc.com/estate-planning-for-young-adults/ Wed, 07 Aug 2019 17:37:22 +0000 https://ferrilawpllc.com/?p=613 Estate planning may be something you only associate with older adults – those with families that span multiple generations, retirees who have accumulated wealth from work and various retirement and investment plans, or elderly individuals who require assistance through at-home care or nursing homes. But estate planning can be beneficial to young adults as well. The following tools can help an individual plan for many different occasions, no matter what age.

If there is an accident that causes incapacitation, most young adults would want their parents’ or spouse’s help. Preparing the following documents can allow hospitals and institutions to share pertinent information with loved ones, and help them make decisions if the need arises –

  • HIPPA Authorizations allow doctors to discuss medical information with loved ones;
  • Health Care Powers of Attorney allow you to choose another individual you trust to make health care decisions for you when you can’t make them for yourself;
  • Living Wills give you the ability to outline what type of care and treatments you would like to receive in different medical scenarios, for instance if you would like to be placed on life support or use feeding tubes;
  • Financial Powers of attorney allow you to choose another individual to manage your financial assets and legal issues when you are unable to.

In the event of (early) death it is important to note that not creating a plan still creates a plan. All states have laws regarding who your beneficiaries are and how your estate is inherited if you die without creating a plan first. In Michigan this means your estate would likely pass to either your spouse, children, parents, or siblings depending on who is alive at the time of your death. Even if this is who you would like to inherit, it is passing your estate on to these loved ones through probate, which can mean higher estate taxes and little to no protections for minor beneficiaries.  For more personalized plans with protections, consider –

  • Trusts and Wills lay out who you would like to receive your assets and belongings. Trusts have the added benefit of designating how and when these individuals inherit. So, if you have minor children you can add in protections against their creditors and against themselves until they reach a certain age or are able to handle their finances;
  • Guardianship papers dictate who you would like to take care of your minor children;
  • Digital asset planning allows you to designate what happens with your online accounts, social media profiles, and subscription services.

To discuss estate planning tools and how they can benefit you, please contact our office at (248) 409-0256. We offer a free initial consultation to learn more about our process.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day https://ferrilawpllc.com/world-elder-abuse-awareness-day/ Fri, 14 Jun 2019 18:36:24 +0000 https://ferrilawpllc.com/?p=608 June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).

An estimated 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of abuse or mistreatment. WEAAD was created in 2006 to promote a better understanding of elder abuse and educate individuals on how to identify, address, and prevent abuse in the future.

Elder abuse can take many different forms – physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, financial exploitation, or neglect.

There are various warning signs that can help individuals identify when an elderly loved one is being abuse – the elder begins to have trouble sleeping, seems depressed, loses weight rapidly, acts agitated or becomes violent, becomes withdrawn, stops taking part in activities they previously enjoyed, has unexplained bruises, burns, or scars,  looks messy or has unwashed hair or clothes, displays signs of trauma, or changes their banking or spending patterns. Knowing the signs can lead to a conversation about concerns over what is happening and can help prevent further abuse or mistreatment.

Caregivers and loved ones can also help prevent elder abuse by being able to identify potential scams. The National Council on Aging assembles a list each year of the “Top Ten Scams Targeting Seniors.”[1] This includes Medicare/health insurance scams, funeral scams, internet fraud, telemarketers, IRS scams, investment schemes and the grandparent scam, where an impostor calls pretending to be a grandchild in need of quick financial help.

Some estate planning tools can also help prevent elders from being taken advantage of. Elders with a personalized plan would be able to choose to stay in control of their assets until they are no longer able to. They would choose who makes the determination that they are no longer able to handle those responsibilities, either financial or otherwise. And they would choose who steps in as the Power of Attorney to assume control of the assets and provide more financial monitoring than the elder may have been capable of providing. This could deter a scammer from putting themselves in a position to immediately take control of the elder’s assets and transfer everything to themselves. Having an estate plan is an extra layer of defense against individuals abusing, mistreating or exploiting elders.

[1] https://www.ncoa.org/economic-security/money-management/scams-security/top-10-scams-targeting-seniors/