Michigan Estate & Probate Law and VA Benefits

Often times, I will work with families that are crisis planning. What does this mean?

I define crisis planning as planning by a family that is in the process of assisting a loved one with an illness, injury, or disease. In Michigan, especially in Metro-Detroit, it is difficult to get the right information to assist these clients timely. All to often, clients receive misinformation or flat out wrong information from their neighbors, friends or nursing home personnel that do not understand Medicaid regulations or Michigan law.

As a result, clients will often lose assets or funds that could be better used supplementing their loved one’s care or assisting with other financial burdens like the upkeep of a home or providing economic means for the other parent or spouse living at home. Therefore, the best advice that you can provide anyone in a nursing home situation, is to seek the advice of a qualified elder law attorney. Our office offers free consultations and can provide important information to assist a family in crisis.

The easiest way to avoid crisis planning is to plan ahead. Using Michigan’s estate planning and probate laws to your advantage, you can enact certain strategies by simply updating your estate plan. Michigan law allows you to avoid living probate, guardianships and conservatorships, by executing power of attorney documents. Power of attorney documents, both a general durable power of attorney and medical power of attorney, can be effective disability planning tools that will allow your family to unlock your assets and engage in Medicaid or VA benefit planning, if these documents are drafted correctly. In order to determine if these documents are drafted correctly, you should have them regularly reviewed by an attorney specializing in elder law. As a rule of thumb, I suggest that you review your general durable power of attorney to make sure that:

* It is effective upon signing * It appoints successor agents * It has specific clauses related to benefit planning * It is not “stale”

If you have specific questions regarding your power of attorney documents, or if you do not have these documents in place, call our office for help. Drafting these documents is a simple process and often can be done at a very reasonable price.

You can reach our office at (586) 264-3756.