What is difference between a Will and a Trust?

-A Will clarifies where you would like assets to go upon death, who you would like appointed as the guardian/conservator for any minor children and a few other basic estate planning needs. The Will itself does not help convey title to assets from the estate to the beneficiaries and without a trust could result in a probate case. A Trust is a legal entity that can hold title to assets and is used as the actual beneficiary of assets upon death in order to avoid probate court and possibly hold/manage assets after death for the support of a beneficiary. They are very different tools used within estate planning.

When is a party in a lawsuit entitled to attorney fees from the other side?

-Michigan adheres to the American rule which states that a prevailing party in a lawsuit can be awarded actual attorney fees if there is a contract between the parties that sets that out or if there is a direct statute on point. Examples of Michigan statutes that award attorney fees are lemon law for new vehicles; eminent domain where private property is being taken by a municipality; conversion where someone takes property from another and converts it to their own use; consumer protection act where businesses engage in deceptive practices towards consumers. Without an express contract or direct Michigan statute a party to a lawsuit, even if they win, cannot be awarded actual attorney fees.

What is a ladybird deed?

-It is a type of deed where title is transferred from someone back to themselves while reserving an unrestricted life estate. This means that as long as the owner is alive they can do whatever they want with the property but then upon their death title to the property automatically transfers to the named beneficiary, which for estate planning purposes would be the owner’s Trust that was created for them.

What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce?

-A contested divorce is where the parties are unable to come to an agreement on the issues in the divorce. If there are minor children there are typically 5 main issues: property settlement (the fair division of assets/debts obtained in the marriage), spousal support (used to be called alimony), custody of minor children (physical and legal), parenting time (what specific times/days will the minor children spend with each parent) and child support. In a divorce with no minor children the issues are typically just property settlement and spousal support. In a contested divorce the attorneys fees will be higher because there is simply more time being spent by everyone moving through the divorce process. Mediation is mandatory and there could be a trial if Mediation does not resolve all of the issues. In an uncontested divorce the parties are able to work out there issues and just need an attorney to help them through the legal process of getting divorced.

What is the difference between a divorce and legal separation?

-A legal separation mimics a divorce in all aspects (property settlement, spousal support and if there are minor children then custody, parenting time and child support) but at the end of the process the parties are still married. This process has to be agreed upon by both parties and is usually done to allow one party to remain on the other parties’ health insurance. Most employers do not see legal separation as a triggering event to remove the spouse from insurance benefits.

What determines whether an attorney can help to get points reduced on traffic tickets?

-I tell clients that prosecutors typically look at 3 main factors: First, what is your driving record like? The more previous tickets you have had the harder it is to get a reduction now. Second, was there an accident involved? If there was an accident, especially if someone was hurt, this might influence the prosecutor’s decision. Finally, how was your interaction with the police officer on the scene? If you were polite and respectful to the officer they are most likely willing to allow the prosecutor to reduce the ticket.

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