Estate Planning Archives

One of the many areas of expertise for a Michigan family law lawyer is drawing up prenuptial agreements. And forget about the stereotypes you see in the movies or on tv. Prenuptial agreements are not just for the wealthy, and they’re not necessarily drawn up to keep assets away from one partner or the other.

As a Rochester Hills family law attorney, it’s becoming increasingly common to be approached by one or both partners to discuss a prenup. Why? Because society is changing, and family situations are increasingly complex.

Prenuptial agreements can help set the groundwork for a successful marriage, especially when there have been previous marriages, relationships, or children from another union.

If you’re considering getting married, add consulting a Michigan family law lawyer to your marriage preparation checklist.

A Prenuptial Agreement is Not Just for the Rich

Throw this myth out right away. Couples of all income levels can benefit from a prenup.

Here are just a few reasons to consider creating prenup before you get married:

  • In many families, both partners are income earners – a prenup agreement can outline how income, pensions and retirement savings will be combined.
  • Couples are getting married later in life, and may enter the marriage with separate property.
  • One or both spouses may have children from a previous relationship.
  • One or both partners may be remarrying, own a business or family cottage, or even come into the relationship with priceless family heirlooms. While a marriage is about joining your lives together, there may be reasons that you may wish to keep some property separate.

A Prenuptial Agreement Kicks off the “Money Talk”

Any Michigan family lawyer will tell you that disagreements about money management is one of the top reasons for divorce. Differing approaches to financial goals and poor spending habits create stress on a marriage, tearing couples apart. And yet surprisingly, many don’t talk about money before marriage.

Creating a prenuptial agreement kick starts the money talk, allowing you to address among other things, issues like:

  • Child and spousal support from a previous relationship.
  • How you will handle debt incurred prior to the start of the relationship.
  • How you may handle debt incurred during the relationship.
  • Division of retirement funds and life insurance proceeds.
  • How you will divide financial accounts, and how finances will be managed.

A Prenuptial Agreement Can Take Some of the Sting Out of a Divorce

While couples don’t typically begin their marriage considering divorce. An estimated 41% of first marriages in the US end in divorce, and that number skyrockets with second and third marriages.

Should you divorce, a prenup can cover division of assets, making the process of divorce quicker and less unpleasant for both parties.

A Prenuptial Agreement Can Protect You

With that in mind, a well-crafted prenuptial agreement can help protect your financial well being during the marriage, and if it ends.

While you may decide to visit the same lawyer to draw up an agreement, it’s strongly recommended that you have your agreement reviewed by a separate, qualified Michigan family law lawyer prior to signing. You want to make sure that the agreement is truly in your best interest, and that all critical items are covered.

It’s Important to be Clear, Open and Honest with Your Michigan Family Law Lawyer

Drawing up a prenuptial agreement is not the time to be secretive about your assets, finances, dreams, or concerns. It’s important that you are open and honest with your Michigan family law lawyer so they can help craft an agreement that reflects your true situation.

It’s equally important that your prenuptial agreement is clear, valid, and enforceable.

Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act

In order to help ensure fairness, Michigan has adopted a set of rules called the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act, that requires the following for a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable:

  • The agreement must be fair, equitable, and reasonable under the circumstances.
  • It must be entered voluntarily with full disclosure from both parties, and all rights understood.
  • It must be free from fraud, signed with clear consent, with each party protected due to mental incapacity or undue influence.
  • Both spouses must sign the agreement.

In addition, if the prenuptial agreement is used in a divorce case, the facts and circumstances of the relationship cannot have too radically since the agreement was signed. If that is the case, it may be unfair to enforce the existing agreement.

Want to Learn More? Contact Michigan Family Law Lawyer Stephanie Krane-Boehmer

Stephanie has vast experience with your divorce settlement, drawing up prenuptial agreements, parenting agreements, parental rights, child support, spousal support and many other Michigan family law issues. When experience counts, you can trust Michigan family law lawyer Stephanie Krane-Boehmer to provide sound legal advice and fight to protect your interests. Contact Stephanie for a free consultation today.

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As an estate planning lawyer in Rochester Hills, I prepare a lot of wills, trusts and estate plans for my clients. Most are fairly routine – assigning Powers of Attorney for financial and medical decisions, drafting wills to record my client’s wishes for property division after their death.

Some are more complex, like estate plans that leave assets in trust, generation-skipping wealth transfers, or charitable trusts.

Lately, however, a new topic is trending in the area of estate planning – the impact of DNA testing results on wills, estates, and inheritances.

DNA Testing Makes it Easier than Ever to Uncover Your Family History

People have always been fascinated by their ancestry. And it’s easier than ever before to learn more about your background by taking a simple DNA test through popular sites like or 23andMe. Odds are you know someone who has taken a test – and you may have taken one yourself.

Most people find out a little more about their background, like their cultural heritage or their predisposition to certain medical conditions. Some are connected with distant cousins. In other cases, DNA reveals lost siblings, suspect parentage, or connects adopted children with their biological parents.

While many of these may be fascinating to read, what do they mean from the perspective of an estate planning lawyer in Rochester Hills?

Michigan Inheritance Laws

Any estate planning lawyer in Rochester Hills can easily break down Michigan inheritance laws.

Dying with a valid will in place is called “testacy,” meaning you have a will and last testament to guide how your property and assets should be distributed.

If you die without a will, you are dying “intestate,” the fancy term for leaving no will. At that point, your estate passes to your inheritors in a legal process called “intestate succession”. The details are outlined in the Michigan Estates and Protected Individuals Code (or EPIC) Act 386 of 1998 Article II Part 1.

In general, the act states that if you have a spouse but no children, your spouse will inherit your estate. If you have children or half-children, a portion of the estate will go to them.

But what about children you may have had through an earlier relationship that you may not even be aware of? What about children conceived through artificial insemination techniques including sperm and egg donations? Are they eligible for part of your estate?

Establishing Paternity

The state of Michigan holds that children have a right to a relationship with both parents, and requires both parents to provide financial support for their children.

If parents are married when the child is conceived or born, the mother’s husband is considered the legal father. If parents are unmarried, paternity can be established voluntarily (by agreement between the two parents) or using DNA paternity testing.

Previously, giving children up for adoption or providing sperm/egg donations were considered anonymous unless both parties took steps to reconnect.

While the law is clear, circumstances are changing. Simple, inexpensive DNA tests can be used to establish parentage. In some cases, sperm donors have been successfully sued for child support.

So, can DNA testing also be used to establish rights of inheritance if someone dies intestate?

Protect Your Estate – Make a Will

This area of the law is currently murky. As an estate planning lawyer in Rochester Hills, my strong advice is to make a will clearly outlining your intent. And I would advise you to create your  will or estate plan sooner rather than later.

While “estate planning” may sound like something complicated and only for the rich, it’s really quite simple. A basic estate plan includes a will, a durable health care Power of Attorney, a durable Power of attorney for financial management and a living will to outline your desire for medical care in case of a terminal illness.

And while you can use an online will kit for a start, if you live in the area, it’s always better to work with a trained estate planning lawyer in Rochester Hills to ensure your will covers your needs, protects your assets, and minimizes time your estate may take to go through probate.

Stephanie Krane-Boehmer: Trusted Estate Planning Lawyer in Rochester Hills

As an estate planning lawyer in Rochester Hills, Stephanie Krane-Boehmer offers trusted advice to her clients. Stephanie will create a personalized plan for you, accounting for your unique needs and life situation. No book software program or website can possibly keep up with the changing laws of each state like a trained, experienced estate planning lawyer.

Contact us to schedule a free-of-charge appointment to meet with Stephanie to review your estate planning options.

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Resources: Health & Human Services – Establishing Paternity

When parents with children divorce, a key consideration they wish to discuss with their divorce lawyer in Michigan surrounds custody. And the legal definition of custody in Michigan may not mean what you think.

Many view custody solely as which parent the child lives with. In the past, there was a trend towards “sole custody,” where the child lived with one parent as a primary caregiver, and had visitation time with the other.  The primary caregiver was responsible not only for care, but making decisions regarding schooling, finances, and medical issues.

Recognizing the value that both parents bring to their children’s lives, many states are considering joint custody to be in the best interests of the child, unless there is reason to believe it is not.

In Michigan, the law simply requires that parents be advised of joint custody. The Michigan courts will only consider joint custody if one or both parents request it.

What you Need to Know About Custody in Michigan

If you are divorcing, you will need to create a Parenting Plan. The plan will define your custody arrangement, including physical custody, parenting time, decision-making responsibilities and communication.

  • Physical custody – refers to where your child will live. Parents can share time in almost any combination from 50/50 (joint physical custody), 60/40, 70/30, down to 80/20 (generally considered sole physical custody and visitation with the other parent).
  • Legal custody – refers to who makes decisions (typically larger decisions) to guide their child’s lives. These decisions include health care, religion, education, and finances. A joint arrangement is typical, where both parents remain involved in these decisions.

When reviewing custody arrangements, a divorce lawyer in Michigan can provide advice on how the courts will respond to a request for joint or sole custody.

Michigan courts consider factors like the capacity of the parent(s) to provide a loving and safe home environment, the mental and physical health of each parent, and their ability to provide for medical care, nutritional needs, and material needs.

Creating a Parenting Plan

A divorce lawyer in Michigan can not only help inform your custody decisions, they can help you build a comprehensive Parenting Plan to record your agreements and help communicate your ideals.

With joint legal custody, a Parenting Plan can outline what routine decisions each parent is able to make individually, and when and how they consult on larger, non-routine issues.

The Parenting Plan also outlines the agreement for physical custody / parenting time. A child’s parenting time needs can vary depending on age. For example, newborns generally require more time with their mother, while teenagers may be able to handle more flexibility with their parenting arrangements, or even express a preference to live with one parent or another.

Handling Parenting Disputes

The founding principal in Michigan courts is that all parenting decisions must be in the best interests of the child. Courts weigh parental decisions based on those interests.

For example, if parents disagree on schooling, the court will weigh factors like:

  • How the decision will impact the existing custody arrangement between parents
  • The reasonable preferences of the child (based on age, emotional maturity, and intellectual development)
  • The stability of the family home, the home, school and community record of the child.

What is the Right Custody Arrangement for You?

As we’ve said before, there is no one “right” way to raise a child. Every case, every family, is unique. A qualified divorce lawyer in Michigan can provide you with guidance to help you build a Parenting Plan that will work for you.

Trust Stephanie Krane-Boehmer, an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Michigan

If you have questions about custody, child support, spousal support, or need to go to court to handle a parental dispute, you can count on Stephanie Krane-Boehmer to represent you and work hard to achieve the best outcome for your case. Get started today. Request a free consultation with Stephanie.

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As an estate planning lawyer in Michigan, I help my clients create their wills, set up Powers of Attorney for financial management and medical decision-making, and help them create trusts to protect their assets. One thing I also counsel them on: creating an estate plan for their young adult/teen children.

Your 18-year-old may be leaving the nest to go to college, starting their first “real job,” and/or be moving out of the home for the first time. It’s time to have “the talk”. No, not that talk – the one about medical care, financial responsibility, debt, and digital protection.

Is Your Young Adult Protected?

In Michigan, an 18-year-old is considered an adult. As a parent, you no longer automatically have access to help with their medical needs or manage their finances unless you put a proper plan in place. The frightening truth is that most 18-year-olds / young adults will not be able to receive help from their parents if they are targeted by a financial scam, end up in the hospital, or get into financial trouble.

Most young adults don’t even consider getting a will until they’re married or have children. A will is something that “old people” need, right?

Wrong. You never know what is going to happen in life. In the best-case scenario, creating an estate plan early can help young adults understand the importance of this valuable legal protection. In the worst-case scenario, having an estate plan in place can help your family make medical and financial decisions quickly in the case of an emergency, with the full backing of the law.

Ask an Estate Planning Lawyer in Michigan for Help

Your estate planning lawyer in Michigan can help you navigate any concerns you may have around:

  • Healthcare – are your young adults still covered by your insurance? As parents, are you still legally allowed to schedule and discuss doctors’ appointments? Do you have Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) documents in place?
  • Finances – who is able to access financial accounts in case of emergency? Are you able to transfer funds to and from their accounts when needed?
  • Digital protection – although no young adult wants to give their parents keys to the social media accounts, a basic estate plan can be set up to grant parents or guardians access to social media and digital accounts in case of emergency.
  • Emergency care – who do they trust to make decisions about medical care or life saving treatments?

Create a Basic Estate Plan with Your Young Adult

Visit an estate planning lawyer in Michigan with your 18+-year-old to put a basic estate plan in place. It doesn’t cost much, and it can be invaluable in case of an emergency.

A Basic Estate Plan includes:

  • Will
  • Durable Health Care Power of Attorney naming who is responsible for medical decisions
  • Durable Power of Attorney responsible for financial management if you are unable to handle financial affairs.
  • Living Will outlining wishes regarding life-support or other care they may wish to receive or avoid in case of a terminal illness or vegetative state.
  • Provisions for digital assets and accounts
  • Assistance with health insurance coverage and/or HIPAA documents.

You Can’t Afford Not to be Protected

There are many benefits to creating an estate plan early. While no one wants to consider a worst-case scenario, the sad truth is that they happen. And while a Power of Attorney or Will won’t be your first consideration, you’ll be glad the powers are in place to protect your child when they need it the most.

Stephanie Krane-Boehmer – Affordable, Reliable, Trusted Estate Planning Lawyer in Michigan

Want to learn more? Reach out to Stephanie Krane-Boehmer for a free consultation to discuss what makes sense for you and your young adult.

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Rochester Hills Living Trust Lawyer: Most people understand the basics of a will. A will is a written, signed, and witnessed document that lays out how your property will be passed down after your death. A living trust outlines provisions for a trustee to manage your estate (anything you designate as trust property) during and after your life. The key advantage of a living trust is that it allows your successors to avoid the time and expense of probate, minimize attorney fees and taxes paid upon death.

As a Rochester Hills living trust lawyer, I can help you understand the difference between a living trust and will, and decide if an estate plan is right for you.

You Don’t Need to Be a Millionaire to Benefit from a Living Trust

I often hear from my clients, “I don’t have enough money to need a trust.” That’s because we associate trust funds with the ultra-rich. Phrases like “trust fund baby” in the news, films, and television have fed into this perception.

But if you have a house with equity in it (it’s worth more than you owe), a holiday property, or even some investments, a living trust can not only help you pass those assets along more easily, it can help keep your private business out of court.

Which is Better – A Living Trust or a Will?

There’s no right answer to this question. Your life is unique, and your end-of-life decisions and needs will be as well.

A will is simpler and less expensive to prepare than a living trust. But there are limitations on what a will can prescribe. A will help you designate who gets what upon your death. You can also use it to appoint a guardian for your children.

A living trust gives you more power to designate where, when, and how you wish your property to be handled. It is also ideal for people who are expecting to need help in their older age, whether because of physical or mental decline. Because a living trust can be enacted while you are still alive.

Ask a qualified wills and living trust lawyer to advise you on what might be best for your situation…and your future.

A Living Trust Can Help Your Children Care For You When You Need It Most

Should you become incapacitated mentally or physically, a properly-drafted living trust can help your trustee care for you during your life with minimal legal fuss. They simply take over the property as you’ve designated in your trust, and can use it to help care for you or carry out your wishes.

How Much Does it Cost to Set Up a Will or Trust?

Again, there’s no simple answer to this question. A will is less expensive than a trust up front, but a will can also cost your heirs much more in taxes, court fees, and legal expenses after your death.

Setting up a trust can be more expensive, but depending on the amount of property and complexity of your estate, it may be the smarter financial solution in the long run.

Avoid “One-Size-Fits-All” Will and Trust Solutions

No book, software program, online will, or website can possibly account for any one person’s unique situation and needs. Avoid estate planning seminars and free lunches that give you a hard sales pitch. They’re usually offering templated solutions that may not be right for you.

Likewise, don’t simply choose any attorney (or the cheapest attorney!) to draw up your will or trust. Most professional lawyers will offer a no-charge consultation. Bring them the details of your case, listen to what they have to say, then decide if they are the best trust attorney for you.

Contact Rochester Hills Living Trust Lawyer Stephanie Krane-Boehmer for a No-Obligation Consultation

Stephanie Krane-Boehmer has years of experience creating wills, estate plans and living trusts for her clients. She is warm, welcoming, and passionate about protecting your rights. Whether you wish to create a new will, or review an existing will or estate plan, Stephanie is happy to consult with you. Schedule an appointment today, free of charge, to meet with Stephanie to review your options.

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As an estate planning lawyer, I’m often asked whether online will services or will kits are any good.

Will planning kits or online tools are an okay starting point for creating a will. And yes, they’re cheaper than using a trained lawyer to draw up your wills, trusts and powers of attorney. But remember – you get what you pay for.

A will is one of the most important documents you will sign in your lifetime. It outlines how you want your property and assets – like your home, pension or investments – to be distributed after your death. A complete estate plan typically includes a will, a durable health care power of attorney (for medical decisions), a durable power of attorney for asset and financial management, and sometimes a living will and / or trust.

Despite what many assume, an estate plan is not just for the wealthy – a good estate plan can protect your assets, save taxes and other fees upon your death, and shorten probate time.

While an online will might be able to get you started on some of the points you need to consider, it’s impossible for any book, software program, or website to account for an individual’s unique situation and needs.

What Happens if You Die Without a Will?

Let’s start with why you need a will. If you die without a will in Michigan, your estate passes to your inheritors by “intestate succession”. The laws governing intestate succession in Michigan are outlined in the Estates and Protected Individuals Code (or EPIC) Act 386 of 1998 Article II Part 1.

These laws clearly outline how your estate will be divided by the probate court, unless you have a legal will that specifically states your wishes. While the law is clear, it may not reflect your desires on how you wish your property to be divided after death.

This can result in serious family disagreements after your death, and may leave a loved one unprotected.

An Estate Planning Lawyer Will Know What Questions to Ask

Creating a will requires trust. You can talk face to face with an estate planning lawyer, and gain the benefit of their years of experience creating wills, POAs and trusts. While a boilerplate will can guide you through the basics, a lawyer will dig deeper, ask questions to uncover pitfalls, and offer solutions and options you may not have considered.

Drafting a will is a creative, collaborative process…one that can’t be replicated by a machine.

An Estate Planning Lawyer Can Answer Your Questions

Google provides a wealth of information at your fingertips…but how do you know for sure if you are getting the right answers? A qualified estate planning lawyer can answer your questions confidently. They have the experience and knowledge to apply to your unique situation and needs…not just based on an average or “typical” case.

An Estate Planning Lawyer Knows the Laws in Your State

This is truly important. Inheritance and estate laws vary from state to state. Boilerplate wills and online tools are often written out of state, or are generalized based on common law, vs. the specific state laws of Michigan. Best case scenario – there’s a small error that can easily be corrected in probate. Worst case, your document is invalid and the wishes you laid out in your online will cannot be followed.

An Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help Protect Your Assets

Drawing up a proper estate plan may cost a little, but more than likely, the savings your heirs will receive down the road will be greater than the initial expense of a lawyer. A proper estate plan can reduce taxes and other costs faced by your loved ones after death, and help them reduce or avoid administrative and legal costs.

The effort of creating a solid will and estate plan can eliminate the reality your loved ones may face, having to pay hundreds of dollars trying to gain possession of your assets in court. Read more about the benefits of completing an estate plan.

An Estate Planning Lawyer Will Keep Clear Records

Believe it or not, lost or outdated wills are a huge issue. Even if you keep on top of updating your will, as your life changes, there can be confusion about which version is the most recent. An estate planning lawyer will keep your most recent Will on file, and will work with your estate trustee(s) to ensure your wishes are carried out.

Create Your Will With Confidence with Stephanie Krane-Boehmer

There are many sound reasons for using an estate planning lawyer to create your will and only one reason not to – the cost. Let’s loop back to the opening of this blog. You get what you pay for.

Rather than relying on a program that simply drafts documents without a clear understanding of a person’s assets, family, or unique situation, take advantage of the experience and knowledge of a trusted lawyer to create your will.

Reach out to Stephanie Krane-Boehmer for a free initial 30-minute consultation on estate planning and creating your will.

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