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September 2020 Newsletter

September 14, 2020

Dear Clients and Friends,

Fall has arrived, bringing with it cooler weather, falling leaves, and an upcoming election. The Michigan Secretary of State has put out a call for more election workers on Election Day. If you would like to help, you can register on the SOS website:

I would also expect that you would directly contact your city or township clerk to volunteer.

Caregiver Contracts

As we get older, we often need the help of others to get us through the day. We may need help with personal care, grocery shopping, preparing meals, housekeeping, transportation, and other activities of daily living. Sometimes the help is provided by friends and family members at no charge. Sometimes it is necessary to pay someone for this assistance.

A common problem arises where family members, friends, or companies are paid for these services, and then, later, an individual applies for Medicaid. Money transferred in the 5 years prior to filing for Medicaid is penalized as a “divestment”.

We can understand why you would not be allowed to give away a sum of money one month to become eligible for Medicaid the subsequent month. But what if the transfer is for services? The Medicaid rules do provide an exception to the “divestment penalty” if the transfer of money is for services provided for in a “Care Contract”. This “Care Contract” must meet the following criteria:

  • In writing

  • Signed by individual and caregiver

  • Notarized

  • No payment for care prior to signing contract

  • No lump-sum payments for future services

  • Care must be delivered in the home (not an assisted living facility, memory care facility, etc.)

  • Must be necessary in order to stay at home

  • Compensation is commensurate with community standards

  • Cannot have a contract with a parent or spouse

  • Must have a physician letter stating the care is needed

  • No payment for companionship

  • The contract must describe the type, frequency, and duration of services and the compensation for the services

Again, if there is no contract, or if the contract does not meet the requirements, the payments made will be treated as divestments if there is a subsequent application for Medicaid.

If you are paying for these types of services, or if you are providing these types of services, without a “Care Contract”, please contact my office. We can discuss preparing the necessary “Care Contract” to protect your rights.

Pet Trust

Many of you are using beneficiaries on all your assets as the method of avoiding probate.

When our beneficiaries include our pets we obviously cannot leave an inheritance directly to our pet. Often this is handled by leaving some money to an individual to take care of the feeding and medical expenses of our pet. Sometimes our friends will take our pets without any payment.

However, sometimes there is a need to pay someone or to cover vet bills. I recently helped a client who owned 3 horses. Each had daily boarding bills and several annual vet bills. All three had a life expectancy of more than 10 years.

The solution was to create a “Pet Trust” for the horses, naming a successor trustee, and setting aside enough money to pay all the expenses over their life expectancies. If you want to leave a sum of money for the care of a pet over several years, a “Pet Trust” is the best way to protect the money from being spent on other things.


I have mentioned this before but I think it is important enough to mention again.

The use of ventilators was brought to my attention on a personal level in March. My wife, Susan, had an operation to remove her gallbladder. After the operation, she went to recovery. The doctors were concerned when her oxygen levels remained very low while in recovery. They put her on a ventilator for about 3 hours until she came out of the anesthesia and could breathe on her own.

The point is that the Power of Attorney for Healthcare that I prepared for her and many of you allows for the use of a ventilator. The Power of Attorney states that if she is in the dying process with no hope of recovery and the only thing keeping her alive is a medical device such as a ventilator, respirator, feeding tubes, etc., then they are to be removed. It does allow a ventilator if it will save her/your life.

This is an important distinction in this era of COVID 19. The nightly news has carried many stories of people on ventilators for days and weeks; kept alive until their immune system can defeat the virus.

Many attorneys have drafted healthcare powers of attorney that absolutely prohibits the use of a ventilator, etc., in all circumstances.

If I prepared your healthcare power of attorney, it does not prohibit a ventilator under all circumstances. If another attorney prepared your healthcare power of attorney, you should review the language to see if it is appropriate.

Sidenote: If it took you more than 5 minutes to put hour hands-on your power of attorney, you need to find another place to keep it. You might not even have that much time if you had to call an ambulance or rush to a hospital.


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

September 15

What you need to know about 401ks, IRAs

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!

September 24

What you need to know about 401ks, IRAs

October 22

New Laws Affecting your Estate Plan

November 12

Wills, Trusts, and Ladybird Deeds


All seminars will be at 1:00 pm except September 18 at 10:00 am

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

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

September 18

Wills, Trusts, and Ladybird Deeds

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,