FAQs About Elder Law

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Frequently Asked Questions

The team from Rutkowski Law Firm: Asset Protection & Estate Planning provides answers to some of our most popular questions.

1. Should I consider funding any motorized vehicles in my Trust?

a. Make a list of all personal (not business) vehicles to determine if the current $60,000 (2022) threshold for vehicles set by the Secretary of State is met. Include the type of vehicle, owner(s) and current total $ value. Types might include car, SUV, ORV, RV, trailer, etc. Do this same exercise in a separate list for your watercraft. That threshold is separate and set at $100,000 (2022). If the total $ value is over either threshold, then you might want to consider placing the asset into trust.

2. If married, does it matter which name the vehicle is in?

a. It does not necessarily matter whose name the vehicle title is in if the total $ value of all vehicles for that person are under the threshold mentioned above. If both spouses are listed on the title, the threshold only becomes a problem at the passing of the second spouse.

3. Does it matter what kind of Trust I have?

a. To avoid transfer issues and probate at the time of your death, it does not matter what kind of Trust that you have. However, if you are concerned about asset protection for your vehicles, you should speak to your attorney regarding your estate plan.

4. How do I fund the vehicles?

a. You will need to set up an appointment at your local Secretary of State branch. You should bring with you the current title to the vehicle and the Certificate of Trust for the trust that you want to retitle the vehicle to.

5. Do I need to notify my Auto Insurance agent of these funding changes?

a. Yes, just as we do for Homeowner’s policies during funding. Once the vehicle has been retitled, and new title is in hand, you will need to contact your auto insurance company to have the trust added as an additional insured.

6. Does Rutkowski Law Firm need to know, or can I do this myself?

a. RLF does not need to know about the retitling of your vehicle. However, it would be very beneficial to keep your new title either with your Estate Plan or where your Successor Trustee knows where to find it. They will need it should something happen to you.

Estate Planning Law Firm Serving Bloomfield Hills, Kalamazoo, Rochester, Sterling Heights & Macomb, MI

FAQs About Elder Law

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about elder law:

What constitutes elder law?
Elder law consists of several practice areas. These include estate planning, asset protection, Medicaid planning, preparations for long-term care, and in some cases, special needs planning.
How can an elder law attorney help?
Elder law attorneys have experience in estate planning, asset protection, and long-term care planning, making them great partners for seniors who need help managing their affairs. Additionally, an elder law attorney can help protect seniors from abusive family members and individuals who might be taking advantage.
Should an elder law attorney possess special certifications and credentials?

An elder law attorney must be licensed to practice in your state. Aside from that, he or she must be recognized as a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA) by the state bar. With a CELA, the lawyer has undergone training to understand the concerns and common issues of elderly citizens.

When is the best time to consult an elder law attorney?
Once you turn 60, it is time to consider consulting an elder law attorney. However, it won’t hurt if you want to see one while you’re younger. After all, estate planning is not exclusive to senior folks. If you want to get your affairs in order or protect your assets from potential lawsuits as early as now, an elder law attorney can help.

Consulting an elder law attorney while you’re still able, young, and healthy gives you an advantage. You have sufficient time to prepare for long-term care expenses and even set up an estate plan that can protect your young children if you and your spouse meet an untimely demise.
How can I protect my assets from irresponsible family members?
Some family members think spending your pension frivolously when you're old and retired is acceptable. They fail to realize that you still need to spend your allowance wisely to afford maintenance medications, emergency treatment, and even assisted living services. Others might also take advantage of your weakened senses and have you sign off certain assets to them (regardless of your intentions).

To avoid these unwanted scenarios, an elder law attorney can devise strategies to ensure the safety of your assets and nest egg—not just from family members but also from third-party creditors.

An elder law attorney may help you set up a trust where you can transfer your assets. If desired, you can appoint a trustee to distribute a fixed amount of money to your beneficiaries to prevent them from squandering it.
How do I manage estate taxes?

Because they can be notoriously high, estate taxes are a significant concern. Even though Michigan does not impose estate taxes, everyone still has to deal with federal estate taxes.

Elder law attorneys can help you develop strategies to reduce the amount of estate taxes in the future significantly. This effort could require the creation of trusts, but it could also involve selling or donating some assets while you still can.

How do I deal with probate?

Probate is a legal process where a court must validate a last will and testament’s authenticity and validity. The court also seeks to determine that the decedent created it with their full knowledge and consent.

The decedent and at least two witnesses must sign last wills and testaments. The court will also verify that all parties followed the legal requirements.

To ensure a smooth probate process, consult an elder law attorney in creating a last will and testament. By working with an elder law attorney, you can ensure that your will complies with legal requirements and, therefore, won’t risk the court’s disapproval during probate.

What should I do to secure quality long-term care?

The cost of long-term elderly care increases yearly. It’s common to hear stories from families financially struggling due to nursing home costs. Even seniors who have prepared well for retirement and have established a nest egg find it hard to keep up with long-term care costs. But it shouldn’t be that way.

Your elder law attorney can help prepare for these challenges with Medicaid or long-term care planning. Instead of spending hundreds of thousands on nursing home costs, you might pay less with the help of Medicaid and other similar programs.

Contact the Rutkowski Law Firm at (248) 970-1947 if you have more questions about trusts, wills, estate planning, and Medicaid planning, or schedule a free virtual consultation.

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Ask A Question,
Describe Your Situation,
Request A Consultation

Call (248) 792-9193 or fill out the short form below. We will usually respond within 1 business day but often do so the same day. Don’t hesitate, your questions are welcome.
* Required Fields
Your Information Is Safe With Us

We respect your privacy. The information you provide will be used to answer your questions or to schedule an appointment if requested.

Schedule Your Virtual Consultation - Click to Call (248) 792-9193

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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