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September 2021 Newsletter

Posted on September, 2021

Dear Clients and Friends,

In the office this month.

What is New with Ladybird Deeds

Many of you reading this newsletter have ladybird deeds. A Ladybird Deed is a Quit Claim Deed in which you name one or more people, or your trust, to receive title to the property on your death or on the death of the second of you and your spouse.

They are a very useful and popular tool that all estate planning attorneys utilize.

A new issue regarding homeowners' insurance has arisen due to a case decided by a Court in Minnesota. In that case, there was a Ladybird Deed in place when the owner died. A few days later, the house burned. Under Minnesota law, title changed at the moment of death of the owner. The insurance company refused to pay the fire claim because the new owner was not named as an insured on the policy.

This Minnesota Court decision is not precedent in Michigan. However, Michigan law is similar to Minnesota in that title transfers immediately on the owner’s death. A Michigan court could someday make the same decision.

What should you do? Tell your homeowner’s insurance agent to add the names of the individuals or trust that will become the owner on death. They will be additional named insured.

Credit Cards on Death

Earlier this month, I met with Helen whose husband had recently passed away. She had been using her credit card for expenses when she discovered that the card company had shut the card down. They told her that even though she had a card with her name on it, the husband was the only one that had signed the application for the card. Therefore, only the husband would be responsible for paying the credit card bills. Since he had died, the credit card was shut down.

What to do? If this could be an issue with you on the death of one spouse, contact your credit card company to make arrangement for both spouses to be able to use the cards after the death of one of them.

Who needs a Funeral Representative?

I lost a client and a friend this month when Victoria fell and hit her head in the parking lot. She did not have any immediate family to make her funeral arrangements. Her closest relative was a seldom mentioned nephew whose whereabouts were unknown. The funeral home needed the approval of the next of kin or a funeral representative in order to do a creation.

Fortunately, I had provided for a funeral representative in her Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) for Financial Matters. If I prepared your DPOA within the last 10 years, you probably have a similar provision in your document. Look to see if you have a paragraph 35. If so, you have named your funeral representative.

Michigan law says your next of kin has the right and responsibility to make your funeral arrangements if you have not done so. Your next of kin would be a spouse, then children, then parents, then grandparents, then siblings, then children of siblings, in that order. It might ot be someone you have a good relationship with. If you need to name a funeral representative because you do not want your next of kin to make your funeral arrangements, contact me to help you.

Who else needs a Funeral Representative?

Janice was in the office this month to create an estate plan. She wants to be cremated but there is a problem. One of her children has already told her that she objects to a cremation. Currently, most funeral homes require the next of kin to sign off on a cremation where the decedent did not sign off while alive. When the next of kin is more than one child, then all the children will need to consent to the cremation.

I had Janice sign a document naming just one of her children to be her funeral representative so that he/she would be able to consent on their own.

When do I start taking my Required Minimum Distributions?

John called me this week wanting to know the age he would need to start taking his required minimum distributions from his retirement accounts. He heard that the law had changed.

He was correct. For decades, the time to start was the year you turned 70 ½. The law changed in 2020. Now the time to start is the year you turn age 72.

Powers of Attorney for the Other Seniors

Bill and Martha called in August to talk about their senior. His name is Eric and he was a senior in high school who graduated, turned 18, and was heading off to college. Since he was now 18, he had reached the age of majority. That meant that mom and dad could no longer make decisions for Eric or even receive information from the school or a hospital.

The solution was to have Eric sign powers of attorney for financial matters and for medical decisions/information. His powers of attorney are similar to the one the other “seniors” sign in their 60’s and 70’s. With the powers of attorney, Bill and Martha will be able to assist Eric if he needs help.

Allen Family News

On a personal note, the last 30 days have been exciting for my family. First, my mother celebrated her 98th birthday. Born and raised in the mountains of North Carolina, she can remember her childhood just as vividly as what she had for lunch yesterday.

Second, my son and daughter-in-law had their first child. Her name is Riley Lynn and she is also my first grandchild. Mother and daughter are fine. The new father looks a little shell shocked and sleep deprived.

Finally, my middle daughter, Marissa, came home to visit from California, the first time since Covid-19 started. I actually took some time off from work to celebrate.


Please see our website, to view our updated list of seminar dates and times. Sometimes our handouts from previous seminars might not be up to date on changes or cancellations. This website has the most current information.


We are so pleased to help you with your estate planning needs. The best way to receive new clients is through referrals from you. In addition, there are people out there searching for someone to help them. They feel comfortable calling an attorney that has a 5-star rating and details of client experiences. If I may, I will continue to ask all of my clients who have not done so yet, to provide a Google Review for me. Not only will it give me more positive reviews, it may help someone out, that doesn’t have a referral available, find an excellent! It is easy to do and takes very little time.

  • Simply type “Gary Allen attorney” and hopefully my information should pop up (if it doesn’t, call me).

  • On the right of your screen are gold stars and the number of Google reviews I have. Click on the google reviews and it will take you to my reviews.

  • Then in the top right corner it says in blue “Write a review”. Click on that to provide a review. (It may have you sign into your Google account if you haven’t already. Thank you!)

Please feel free to share this newsletter with your friends and family.

Very truly yours,