Many of us know someone or will possibly be responsible for someone that is affected by mental illness. Yet, many patients have not executed patient advocate designations for psychiatric care. Psychiatric illness may come on quite suddenly and can be traced to metabolic imbalances, drug interactions, and other situations that, initially, may not appear to pose a threat to someone’s mental health. There are numerous stories of patients being erroneously diagnosed and treated for an extended time for a condition that did not exist. This can result in severe depression and anxiety disorders. When treatments fail, the patient can sometimes be persuaded to undergo therapies that may provide relief but have severe side affects. For example, I recently read about a woman who agreed to undertake electric shock therapy after her course of treatment failed to successfully combat a supposed infection. Electric shock therapy is known for wiping out years of memories which can force the patient into losing their career and being unemployable. If the patient is depressed, maybe to the point of suicidal tendencies, can they be competent to consent to treatment and therapy? On the other hand, individuals with severe psychiatric illnesses such as bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia can have time periods where they are stable, lucid, and handle a high-level career.
Everyone should have input, at some point, into the treatment of their medical and psychiatric issues in the event of an emergency. Individuals can make these decisions while they are still competent, and generally, these decisions are addressed in a Patient Advocate document (a power of attorney designation for health care and mental health). We encourage our clients to appoint a trusted surrogate (a “patient advocate”) with a power of attorney to authorize psychiatric care on behalf of the client in the event of mental illness. An individual may prefer to combine the appointment of a patient advocate with an expressed declaration of his or her preferences when the patient advocate encounters certain situations and choices that affect the patient.
Every day my in box fills with information from many sources. Some is from mainstream media, trade journals, special reports and various reviews and findings from the legal and wealth advisory community. Often, while reading an article or report, many people come to mind that I think might also share an interest in the information.
For example, earlier this year I read through a Special Survey Report published by WealthCounsel and Trusts & Estates magazine. I read it again this week. Even though the survey was directed to estate planning attorneys about emerging industry trends within our profession, there were some items that were of interest to me because they addressed those of us who are moving in 2011 from the “Baby Boomer” and “Generation Jones” generations to being “Golden Boomers”.
As we counsel clients during the preparation of their estate plans, one concern is usually very evident – parents are worried that their children will squander the funds and assets that they worked very hard to accumulate. This concern can be addressed in many ways, but usually, parents request specific provisions in their estate planning documents that control an heir’s access to distributions based upon age, accomplishments, and certain life choices. Therefore, the assets are distributed largely because a specific milestone has been reached. The thoughtful nature of the distribution planning, however, leaves a primary problem unaddressed – preparing the heirs for wealth transition from one generation to the next.
Studies conducted by various institutes demonstrate that many estate plans that have been completed and then updated carefully and competently throughout the years, successfully address the issues relevant to the parents’ wishes. The attention to detail, however, cannot necessarily fill the gap of the heirs’ lack of direction and instruction that results in chaotic estate administration, family disharmony, and relationships that remain broken forever.
More and more checking account owners are using their debit cards or online bill paying methods. With these rising trends, checkbooks are left unaccounted for, for periods of time. Check fraud can occur in one of many ways, such as (1) the victim writes a check but it is intercepted by a third party who fraudulently alters the check, (2) a third party creates an entirely new fraudulent check from the information on the real check, or (3) checks are stolen from the victim and the third party writes fraudulent checks, forging the victim’s signature. For purposes of this article, the victim is a customer of the bank that charges the payor’s (the victim’s) account.
An important defense
Safeguarding your checkbook is an important defense if the financial institution insists upon you, as the victim, being responsible for the fraudulent charges. The Michigan Uniform Commercial Code makes the bank strictly liable to make the victim whole but an exception typically applies. If the victim’s failure to exercise ordinary care “substantially contributes to an alteration of an instrument or to the making of a forged signature on an instrument,” and the bank paid the instrument in good faith, the victim will have difficulty succeeding on a claim against the bank. If the bank also “substantially contributes to the loss,” the loss is apportioned between the bank and the victim. Each party has the burden to show that the other party failed in its exercise of ordinary care.
Planning for the succession of ownership and operation of the family business for next generations presents many tax and non-tax challenges for the family business owner. Oftentimes, keeping the family business in the family involves having to choose between implementing strategies to accomplish tax benefits at the expense of implementing other strategies that may provide a greater likelihood the business will continue to prosper and be managed properly in the future.
Substantial yet limited opportunity
Well, as is addressed in the article below, Congress presented family business owners an unprecedented planning opportunity by enacting the legislation extending the Bush era tax cuts and expanding the estate and gift tax credits at the end of last year. While the opportunity is substantial, it’s limited and likely to undergo changes and possible repeal at the end of a short 2 year window with the current law set to expire at the end of next year, 2012.
Budget Proposal Includes Anticipated Proposals to Change Both Tax and Spending Policies
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder called the consideration of his proposed Executive Budget a “defining moment” for the state this week as the Executive Budget was submitted to state legislators for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Snyder commented on his budget as an opportunity to “stop living in the past and start looking to the future.”
New Year – New (Extended) Tax Laws
The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010. (The “Act”)
After great speculation and debate, Congress has now passed and President Obama has signed a tax package which gives individuals and businesses some predictability for the next two years through December 31, 2012. The Act extends the Bush-era tax cuts, provides estate tax relief, an “AMT” patch, a reduction in employee paid payroll taxes and provides businesses with new incentives to make capital investments by extending depreciation and tax credits.
Virtually any newscast or newspaper continues to talk about the “tax increases” that will become effective January 1, 2011. While the general concept is widely reported there seems to be little attention being given to the specific taxes that will increase if no action is taken by the lame duck congress by the end of the year. The following information is not being offered as any political objection or endorsement but rather just factual information that I wanted to share with everyone for the express purpose of understanding the increases and encouraging everyone to consult with their tax consultants and legal counsel to determine whether any planning before the end of the year makes sense for you.
Please note the following three phases of taxes will roll out
As a majority of Michigan children begin school this week, there are a few things parents can put in place now that will help their children and themselves address an unexpected emergency situation if it should arise.
Naming a short-term guardian for your children
Filling out the emergency contact card the school requires is simply not enough, particularly if something happens to you. You, as the parent, are likely the named emergency contact person for the school, but if you are not available by reason of death, incapacity or otherwise, your child could be relinquished to the care of social services until the time guardianship is sorted out. Parents need to seriously consider naming someone as short-term guardian for their children so that confusion and legal hurdles are kept to a minimum during those panicked hours after an accident or illness that may leave the parents in a position of not being able to care for their children.
Several weeks ago, I shared a poem written by Emily Perl Kingsley entitled, “Welcome to Holland.” (click here to read the “Holland” Reflections blog post) The poem reflects Kingsley’s experience of raising a child with a disability to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it and in some small way imagine how it would feel.
A recent experience
Based on the overwhelming response to my previous post and the poem, I thought it would be appropriate to share a recent experience I had with my son, Casey, who is autistic. Casey recently spent several days with me at our Suttons Bay home after the Fourth of July weekend. As often happens during the summer months, when balancing two separate homes and office locations in Farmington and Suttons Bay, my wife had returned downstate with the other two boys after the holiday for their summer job and sports camp commitments. This left Casey and me on our own. Although the summer months result in a lot of activity at my firm’s Suttons Bay office, including client meetings and work to do, Casey and I were able to take some time off together.
Casey’s “list of things to do”
One of the items that is consistently on Casey’s “list of things to do” when we are together up north is to take a day and go kayaking on one of the local rivers or lakes. One Saturday morning, we packed our provisions for the day and headed over to the Putt and Paddle at the The River in Glen Arbor, Michigan (www.theriverglenarbor.com) and met Mike, the owner, to outfit ourselves with a kayak for the day’s trip. We chose a trip down the Crystal River and Mike and his crew took good care of us in driving us to the “drop spot” for a several-hour journey down the river.
Copyright © 2013 The Penning Group. All Rights Reserved.