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Westland Legal Blog

What do surviving spouses receive when no will is on file?

When a loved one dies without a will, the decisions pertaining to estate distribution will be left up to state intestacy laws to determine. Since most state's intestacy laws track the 1990 Uniform Probate Code, let's start there to determine what a surviving spouse could potentially receive after the death of his or her husband or wife when no will is on file.

Following the death of a husband or wife, here's what the surviving spouse can expect to receive:

  • If children survived the deceased person -- and they are from both the surviving spouse and the decedent -- then the surviving spouse will be able to receive the entirety of the estate.
  • If the decedent has no surviving children and no surviving parents, then the surviving spouse will be able to receive all of the estate.
  • If parents and no children survive the decedent, then the surviving spouse can receive the first $200,000 worth of the estate along with 75 percent of any amount in excess of this.
  • If the decedent is survived by a mix of his or her own children -- some of whom are blood-related to the surviving spouse and some of whom are not -- then the surviving spouse will keep the first $150,000 of the estate along with 50 percent of additional assets.
  • If the decedent is survived by his or her own children -- all of whom are not blood-related to the surviving spouse -- then the surviving spouse can keep the first $100,000 of the estate along with 50 percent of additional assets.

Business lawsuits pursued by Michigan coffee shop franchisee

A Michigan investor, who bought into the Roasting Plant coffee shop franchise, is suing the company for fraud. The investor purchased and paid to build two new locations for the coffee shop, one in Dearborn Heights and the other in Ann Arbor, paying over $3.1 million to set up the stores.

Six hundred thousand dollars of the investment was spent on Roasting Plant's proprietary "Javabot" automatic coffee roasting and brewing system. However, the stores have not churned the kind of profit the investor was hoping for.

What is a mechanic's lien?

A mechanic's lien doesn't have anything to do with car repair, even if it sounds like it. What it generally refers to in the context of real estate is the work that a contractor does on contract relating to a property, and the amount of money that the property owner has agreed to pay the contractor.

Let's say a bricklaying company does $20,000 worth of work on a property, but the owner of the property decides that he or she doesn't want to pay for the bricklaying services. Or, maybe the property owner is simply out of cash and unable to pay. The refusal to pay could be viewed as a violation of the contract, and a court could approve of the contractor's request to put a mechanic's lien on the property.

Why is January divorce season?

It's a new year, and for family law attorneys, it means that they will see a uptick in new business. A research firm, known as Family Studies, recently published information pertaining to divorce trends throughout the year. December is the slowest month for new divorces, and January is the highest.

It's pretty easy to deduce the reason why. No one wants to ruin the holiday season with a divorce. At the same time, the stress of being with family during the holidays could be enough to encourage many otherwise happy couples to divorce. The holidays can be like an emotional powder keg thanks to extended family visits and budget issues, and once January comes around, reality starts to sink in.

When can I move to a new state with my child?

If a job opportunity in another state presents itself, a Michigan parent might be tempted to move to that state with his or her child. However, due to the nature of child custody laws, the process of getting permission to move with a child could involve a few legal hoops that the parent needs to jump through.

Michigan parents can move to new locations with their children if:

  1. No child custody orders exist stating that the parent cannot change his or her permanent residence without first consulting a judge for approval
  2. No child custody orders exist stating that parents cannot move over 100 miles from their home without obtaining a judge's approval.

Drink gin for breakfast but only if it's made by Few Spirits

Two gin distilleries are waging battle in court over the right to use the word "breakfast" in the name of their products. Few Spirits -- the maker of "Breakfast Gin" claims that Gray Skies Distilleries is infringing on its mark by naming its competing gin product "Breakfast Rye." According to Few, Gray Skies is attempting to hijack its hard-won branding -- saying that the use of the word breakfast will serve to confuse its customer base as to which alcoholic beverage is the original Breakfast Gin.

An attorney representing Few is asking for an award that will force the gin maker Gray Skies to stop infringing on its mark. The attorney says that the Few was producing its Breakfast Gin well before Gray Skies started to produce its new product Breakfast Rye. He also stated that the mark Breakfast Gin is a recognized mark by the public which distinguishes Few as a high-quality spirit.

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.

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Westland, MI 48185

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