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December 2020 Newsletter

December 3, 2020

To my Clients, Friends and family,


Over the years, I have visited Independence Village on Northville Road in Plymouth. I gave seminars, visited clients and met with management. It is an excellent facility and is known for its excellent food.

They want to promote their facility to seniors in the area and they are doing it with free meals.

The attached flyer explains how you can get a free meal for yourself and another meal for another senior.

Here are the limitations:

  1. The program ends December 18, 2020.

  2. To keep the program manageable, the offer is extended to only the first 25 people to call in.

I am glad I could help offer this opportunity. Please call Independence Village at 734 849-4635 if you have questions or to place your order.


Social Security Law is a broad field but here are two little known laws that might impact you or someone you know.

  1. After the death of a spouse, the survivor is eligible for a survivor benefit unless they remarry. This generally means receiving the same benefit the deceased partner was receiving if the deceased partner waited to full retirement age or about 4/5 of the benefit if the deceased partner started benefits before full retirement age.

    This is a huge benefit for the many homemakers who worked a little or not at all and therefore would receive a very small social security check.

  2. If you are divorced, you can collect on your ex-spouses benefit if you were married for 10 years or more. Even if your ex-spouse is still alive. You are not eligible if you remarry. Your benefit is equal to roughly one-half of your ex-spouses benefit. Note I said “equal to”. The ex-spouse still gets 100% of their benefit. If your ex-spouse dies, you are eligible for 100% of the ex-spouse’s benefits.

    If you fall in either of these categories, contact the Social Security Administration to apply for your benefits.


Many of you have in your estate plan a special form of quit claim deed that allows you to name your trust or individuals as the beneficiary of your home, cottage or other real estate. This type of deed is nicknamed a “ladybird deed”.

The ladybird deed is one of the most useful tools I have in my lawyer’s toolbox.

In the recent year, I have run into 3 mortgage companies that refuse to write a mortgage when a ladybird deed holds title to the property. Two of the companies are out of state so it figures their legal departments would not be familiar with Michigan law. The third company is the mortgage department in Comerica Bank. The bank told one of my clients that they would require their sons (the beneficiaries) to sign the mortgage.

One solution is to deed the house back to yourself, close on the mortgage, and then do a new ladybird deed to your beneficiary. Another solution is to pick a different bank.

Please let me know if you experience or hear of this problem at any other banks.


Here are some of the major mistakes people make with their estate plans:

  1. Not funding a trust. A trust will avoid probate for the assets titled in the name of the Trust. If you pass away with an asset titled in only your name, it will have to go through probate.

  2. Deeds. Most probate files are about real estate. It is easy to put a beneficiary on a bank account, life insurance policy or IRAs. Changing title to real estate can only be accomplished with deeds. You can only transfer title to real estate by signing a new deed. You cannot transfer title by signing off on the back of the deed like a car title.

  3. Minors or beneficiaries. Naming a minor as a beneficiary can lead to major problems. If you pass away when they are still minors, they will need guardians established to manage the money until they reach the age of 18. Then they are entitled to receive the full amount on that birthday. That could be disastrous.

    Using a trust, the funds can be managed by the trustee until later ages such as 25 or 30. You pick the ages.

  4. Assuming you Financial Power of Attorney can be used after your death. It cannot. A power of attorney ceases at death. After death, beneficiaries can collect those assets they were named as beneficiaries. Joint owners can still access assets in their names. Successor Trustees can manage assets titled in the name of the trust. All other assets can be managed by the Personal Representative named in your will.

  5. Waiting until it is too late to make an estate plan. I think this one is self-explanatory.


All of the senior centers and libraries that had previously scheduled seminars this year have cancelled seminars for Dec.

We are currently working on a seminar schedule for 2021. We will send out the schedule as soon as it is finalized.

When I think of all the benefits of being in this business, I quickly think of my relationships with great clients like you. Thank you for giving me the chance to do what I enjoy.

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone you feel would benefit from it.

Very truly yours,