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Westland Legal Blog

Considerations for your special needs trust

Are you and your family considering a trust for your special needs child? There are numerous trust planning options and financial planning solutions available to assist families with special needs kids. The more you learn about this topic, the better off you and your child will be.

Let's take a look at some special considerations you'll want to keep in mind for your special needs trust:

  • Think about the current and future health status of your loved one. Will this person be able to care for him- or herself one day? Will he or she always require assistance and care from another person? When you know how much care your loved one will require, you'll have a clearer picture of how to prepare.
  • Put together all the information you have about insurance policies, retirement assets and investment accounts. Will you need to fund your trust with a life insurance policy, or do you have sufficient assets to fund the trust?
  • Assemble your dream team of professionals. This team will likely include an estate planning lawyer, a financial planner, a special needs consultant and an accountant. Ask family and friends for recommendations, and be sure to search reviews online before deciding on the professionals you'll hire.

Child visitation rights: How to work peacefully with your ex

If you're a married father, the children of your wife are automatically considered to be yours under Michigan law. No additional paperwork is required to establish your rights as a father. However, if you're an unmarried dad, you need to step forward and claim your parental rights.

Depending on the nature and friendliness of your relationship with the mother of your children, this could be easy or difficult. Here are a few steps you can take to establish your parental rights in the most peaceful way possible. These steps are conversation points and issues on which you and your ex need to agree.

  • Talk with your ex about your desire to have visitation rights with your child before your baby is born.
  • Create a plan for being contacted when your ex goes into labor.
  • Find out if you can be present during the birth.
  • Make sure that you and you ex sign the necessary paperwork to establish paternity at the hospital.
  • Can you stop by the house unannounced after your ex is released from the hospital, or should you call first? Establish protocol for visiting your baby after he or she comes home.
  • Decide how long it's appropriate to come for visits, and decide how often those visits should be made.
  • Determine if there are specific restrictions or requirements for your visits to your baby.
  • Brainstorm strategies to make sure that your visits are easy for you and your former partner.

Divorce: 3 questions to know if you're ready

No divorce is the same, and no decision to divorce happens for the same reasons. Nevertheless, psychologists and family therapists who have dealt with divorcing couples see some factors again and again. According to some family therapy experts, if you answer yes to the following questions, it could be a sign that you're ready to end your marriage.

Three questions that can help you decide if you're ready to divorce:

  • Did you stop having sex? A lack of sex drive might not be a sign that something is wrong with you medically. It could simply be a sign that you're no longer emotionally or sexually attracted to your spouse.
  • Are you having more fun outside your marriage than in it? If you're more focused on your children, or more focused on outside activities, than being focused on your marriage -- it could be a sign that you're bored of your partnership and ready to move on.
  • Are you getting ready to be single again? If you start an exercise routine or start doing other things to improve your appearance, ask yourself: Are you getting ready to be single again, or are you doing this for your spouse?

Convicted rapist awarded custody of his child

A 27-year-old convicted rapist has received joint legal custody and parenting time regarding his 8-year-old son. According to court records, the man raped the mother of his son nine years ago.

According to the mother's attorney, the 27-year-old father was never investigated appropriately, nor properly charged. The attorney believes that the mother -- who was only 12 years of age when the rape happened -- has not been treated fairly.

What are the remedies for a breach of contract suit?

We enter into contracts when we contract employees, when we negotiate a deal with a business and in numerous other circumstances. However, the other party in the contracts we agree to may not always hold up its end of the bargain. In these situations, you may be able to seek different remedies in court -- like financial compensation -- from the party that has breached the contract.

If successful in a breach of contract lawsuit, three main kinds of remedies may be awarded. These include: (1) damages, (2) specific performance and (3) cancellation and restitution.

Real estate closings: Beware of unrealistic closing dates

When you plan to purchase a piece of commercial real estate, you no doubt want the transaction and "deal making" process to be completed as quickly as possible. This may result in your pressuring the selling party to close on the deal fast. The seller, worried that the deal will not go through, could be more than willing to comply with your request.

However, when setting a closing date for a commercial real estate deal, it's vital that you stay realistic with timing. Set a closing date that's doable -- not one that's a fantasy.

What's a durable power of attorney?

If you suffer a serious health event or accident and become incapacitated, the world doesn't stop turning. You'll still have bills to pay and you'll still need to manage your investment accounts. A durable power of attorney is a way for you to make sure that someone -- who you choose and designate -- will have the power to manage your investment accounts and other financial details.

The agent designated in your durable power of attorney will be able to deposit money, withdraw many, write checks, pay bills and make decisions with your investment advisors regarding your financial accounts. Since a high degree of financial responsibility will be involved in these tasks, you want to make sure you choose an agent who is responsible and capable of navigating the world of your finances.

Could Michigan soon have an automatic 50-50 custody bill?

Michigan parents may want to take note of House Bill 4691, the Michigan Shared Parenting Act. This bill -- which offers automatic 50-50 custody to divorcing parents -- could become a state law. Last Friday, an activist group in favor of the proposed measure gathered at the downtown Grand Rapids courthouse to show their support for the legislation.

Supporters say that the proposed measure would resolve the "heartbreaking and ineffective family court system across Michigan." The group believes that the law the court system "negatively and unapologetically pits parent against parent and hurts children of ALL ages." Advocates further claim that the bill would provide parents with more equivalent amounts of parenting time following a divorce.

International child custody disputes: Here's what you should know

International child custody disputes are particularly more likely to happen to individuals who have lived overseas and had a baby with a foreign partner, or to individuals who have been married to a foreign spouse. If a dispute over child custody comes up, the foreign spouse might travel with your child to his or her home country and never come back. Doing so, however, could be a violation of international child custody laws.

If your child has been taken from you in an international child custody dispute, here is what you should do:

  • Get in touch with a family law lawyer who has experience with international child custody matters: Your lawyer will know exactly what to do in order to communicate with the foreign government where your child is currently located. Your lawyer can also attempt to negotiate with your ex the voluntary return of your child without the need for costly and drawn out litigation.
  • Learn about the Hague Convention: The Hague Convention is an international treaty that many countries have signed. The Convention is designed to streamline the process of resolving international child custody disputes by requiring the countries involved in the dispute to honor the terms of foreign family court rulings and foreign child custody agreements.
  • Stay in contact with your children: It's hard when you're at a distance, but if you can find a way to stay in touch with your children overseas, do whatever you can. Send money, letters, pictures and -- if possible -- call them on the phone and by video chat as often as possible.

Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C.
35330 Nankin Boulevard, Suite 702
Westland, MI 48185

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Phone: 734-403-4117
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