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Is a Handwritten Will Effective?

After the 2018 passing of the legendary singer Aretha Franklin, her family and lawyer initially thought she had died without a will. But earlier this year, three handwritten wills—two from 2010 that were locked in a cabinet and one from 2014 that was hidden under a couch cushion—were found in Franklin’s home in Detroit. Franklin’s attorney filed the wills in probate court but was uncertain whether they were legal under Michigan law. One of Franklin’s sons questioned whether she actually wrote the wills and convinced the probate judge to allow a handwriting expert to examine the documents to verify whether the handwriting is Franklin’s. It is likely that the battle over Franklin’s estate, reportedly valued at $80 million, has just begun.

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Common Mistakes with DIY Estate Plans

The internet offers all the information and tools we need at our fingertips to create our own estate plan, right? For most people, this is simply not true. Several years ago, Consumer Reports®, an independent nonprofit consumer watchdog group, created wills using the forms provided by DIY websites and asked three law professors to review them.

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Important Things Your Agent Under a Medical Power of Attorney Needs to Know

Even if you are currently the picture of good health, you may suddenly become too ill to make healthcare decisions for yourself or become unconscious after an accident, needing someone to stand in your shoes to make those decisions for you. A medical power of attorney is a crucial part of your estate plan that enables you to name a trusted person to make healthcare decisions for you if needed. It is essential for the person you name to have the information necessary to carry out your wishes for your medical care.

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What is a Survivor's Trust?

FEBRUARY 11, 2017 GARY R. KERSHNER
A married couple establishes a joint trust with each contributing their share of their joint or community property (if any) and their own separate property to the trust. What happens to the property in the trust when the first spouse dies? As a general rule, the surviving spouse’s share (i.e., their own separate property and one-half share of the joint or community property) simply transforms into the so-called Survivor’s Trust. As the name implies, this is the property that belongs to the survivor. The surviving spouse can continue to make changes to this…

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Greatest Gift

APRIL 19, 2015 GARY R. KERSHNER
The best and most appreciated gift that you can give your family may not be wealth or treasure, but the comfort and peace of mind that comes with knowing they have followed your wishes. Estate Planning is not just about taxes and the transfer of property. It also encompasses making a contract with your helpers to follow when you are no longer able to speak for yourself. This not only includes your wishes for after you are gone, but planning for disability or incapacity, as well. As you might imagine, it is of great comfort for your family and other helpers to know that they are doing what you wanted. This peace of mind might be the greatest gift of all.

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Change The Road You're On

APRIL 16, 2015 GARY R. KERSHNER
I've been in a nostalgic mood recently and have been listening to the music of my youth: Springsteen, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, etc.
The other day I was listening to "Stairway to Heaven" and heard these lyrics: "…there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There's still time to change the road you're on." Strange, I know, but this got me thinking about Estate Planning. When we plan, we take control and change the road we are currently on to the road we know we should follow. It's not too late to plan and change the road you're on.

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Treasure Hunt

APRIL 11, 2015 GARY R. KERSHNER
I love puzzles, especially math or word problems. I love the challenge and the good feeling I get when I solve a puzzle. I am lucky. My profession as an Estate Planner allows me to solve puzzles every day. Once I know my client's story and finances, together we go a hunt to find those planning opportunities. It gives me great pleasure to educate my clients about opportunities that they did not know existed before we met. Talk about a satisfying result to solving a puzzle.

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