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October 2020 Newsletter

October 12, 2020

To my Clients, Friends and family,


Our office remains open to serve past and future clients. We have instituted COVID 19 precautions for the protection of everyone:

  • Wear masks

  • Only one client or family in our office at a time. Please call from the parking lot when you arrive to make sure the earlier clients have left the building.

  • Sanitizing the conference room between clients.

  • Temperature taken at the door.

We are also working to reduce the number of in-office meetings. Other than when it is necessary to sign documents, we would like to avoid an in-office meeting. We will accommodate meetings with you by phone, facetime, or zoom.


Beneficiaries are one of the most important tools we use in estate plan. The primary reason is that an asset with a beneficiary will be distributed to the beneficiary on death and will not go through the probate process.

The probate process is expensive, time-consuming, and subject to creditor claims.

Beneficiary Forms

Whatever entity is holding your asset will have a beneficiary form for you to fill out. That entity might be a bank, credit union, the insurance company, a broker, a retirement account custodian, etc. Sometimes, they take the name TOD (transfer on death), POD (pay on death), and ITF (in trust for).

Types of Beneficiaries

Your beneficiaries can be individuals, a trust, a charity, or an institution like a college or university.

When your beneficiary is an individual or group of individuals, there is the possibility that the beneficiary might predecease you.

If all the named beneficiaries predecease you, the asset will have to go through the probate process to determine who it will be distributed to. It is important you do not allow that to happen. You avoid that happening by creating a beneficiary designation that covers that contingency.

“Per Stirpes” and “Per Capita”

It is very common to name a group of individuals to be the beneficiary of an asset. This might be your children or other relatives. If one of the groups predeceases you, what happens to their share?

“Per Stirpes” means that if the predeceased person themselves has an “issue” (a child born or adopted), then the issue will divide the share of the predeceased person equally.

“Per Capita” means that the predeceased person loses their share and the remaining surviving beneficiaries will divide the asset equally.

Primary and Contingent

If there is any chance that all the beneficiaries might predecease you, then you need to make a contingent beneficiary.

A Contingent beneficiary will only become effective if the primary beneficiaries are all deceased. If this happens and there is not named contingent beneficiary, then the asset will have to go through the probate process.

Biggest Problems

  • Not naming a beneficiary – the asset goes to Probate.

  • Naming your estate is a beneficiary – “Estate” means probate.

  • Naming a minor as a beneficiary – the asset is held by a parent or guardian until they turn 18. Then they get it all. Eighteen-year-olds often squander an inheritance.

  • A beneficiary receiving SSI and Medicaid – if the beneficiary receives more than $2,000.00, they will lose their benefits. You need to name a “Special Needs Trust” as a beneficiary to hold the funds.

  • Never use the word “or” in a beneficiary designation.


All of the senior centers and libraries that had previously scheduled seminars this year have requested that we resume the seminar schedule in August. Here is the current schedule:


All seminars will be at 10:30 am

Northville Community Center: 303 W. Main St. Northville, MI 48167

Please call (248) 305-2851 to reserve a seat

October 20

Wills, Trusts, and Ladybird Deeds

November 17

New Laws Affecting your Estate Plan

December 15

What You Need to Know about LTC and Medicaid


All seminars will be at 1:30 pm

Plymouth Friendship Station: 42375 Schoolcraft Plymouth, MI 48170

Please call (734)354-3222 to reserve a seat!

October 22

New Laws Affecting your Estate Plan

November 12

Wills, Trusts and Ladybird Deeds


All seminars will be at 2:00 pm

Westland Friendship Center: 1119 N. Newburgh, Westland, MI 48185

Please call (734)722-7632 to reserve a seat

October 15

What You Need to Know about LTC and Medicaid

November 19

Wills, Trusts and Ladybird Deeds

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

Very truly yours,