Join Terri North, Owner and Attorney for Legal Strategies, PC, for a free virtual financial planning workshop.  Register by visiting https://tinyurl.com/2020lunchandlearn 

by November 2, 2020.  You will receive a zoom link the day of the workshop with instructions on how to log in.  The topic of the free workshop is:

Does Your Teenager Need an Estate Plan?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020, from 12 noon – 1 p.m.

Why would a young adult need an estate plan?  Once they are 18, they have to give written authority for a parent to handle their legal financial or medical affairs.  If they are away at school, or studying abroad, mom and dad may need to take care of their banking, their car, health insurance coverage, etc. without them being present. Learn more about what is needed to plan for your teenager.

Join Terri North, Owner and Attorney for Legal Strategies, PC, for two free virtual financial planning workshops.  Register by visiting https://tinyurl.com/2020lunchandlearn 

by October 19, 2020.  You will receive a zoom link the day of the workshop with instructions on how to log in.  The two free seminars include:

Legal Issues for Caregivers

Tuesday, October 20, 2020, from 12 noon – 1 p.m.

Being a caregiver for a family member comes with a lot of questions.  During this virtual financial workshop learn how to use a power of attorney for a disabled person.  What to check for to make sure the documents are “up-to-date” and will be accepted.  What exactly is Guardianship and when do you need it?  What is a Conservator and why would you need to be one?  How to freeze credit to protect a vulnerable person and so much more.

Does Your Teenager Need an Estate Plan?

Tuesday, November 3, 2020, from 12 noon – 1 p.m.

Why would a young adult need an estate plan?  Once they are 18, they have to give written authority for a parent to handle their legal financial or medical affairs.  If they are away at school, or studying abroad, mom and dad may need to take care of their banking, their car, health insurance coverage, etc. without them being present. Learn more about what is needed to plan for your teenager.

Do you know an experienced paralegal who is familiar with the administrative paperwork and probate court processes?  As Legal Strategies continues to grow, we are looking to add an experienced paralegal to support our probate and trust administration practice.  Because you know us, we are reaching out to you first to let you know about the opening.  You know we care deeply about our clients, and that we want to add a team member that shares that commitment.  If you know a qualified candidate who would like to join our team, please let us know.  All the details about the job opening can be found at:

https://www.indeedjobs.com/legal-strategies-pc/_hl/en_US?cpref=JXWAtnzf3XWjLOi4YeVNLqF8RN6a-Vzu3FZRpu2XytQ

Thanks for your help! We really appreciate you. 

Relevar Home Care recently published a very helpful article for caregivers.    The article noted that nearly three-quarters of all seniors are diagnosed with at least two chronic diseases, and are seeing an average of different four medical specialists.

So, if you are the advocate for an aging parent, you need the be the “quarterback” that is coordinating the care.  Relevar listed four great questions you could use to start the conversations:

  • Are all of these medications necessary?  You should keep a detailed list of all prescriptions and review them with both the doctor(s) and the pharmacist.  You want reassurance that there isn’t duplication or negative interactions between the meds.  And don’t assume that all of the doctors have a complete list of all the medicines your loved one takes. You may need to provide that list to them.
  • What are the side effects of any new medication? It is difficult to weigh the benefits of a new medication if you don’t know the risks.  Even if the doctor says that “most patients don’t experience any problems”, you should dig deeper to see if your loved one fits the category of patients who DO experience side effects.
  • What’s the best way to reduce pain and discomfort?  Naturally, you want to be cautious that pain killers don’t become a problem or an addiction. But unaddressed pain can slow down healing and cause significant emotional stress for the patient.
  • If this were your mom or dad, what would you do? Asking the physician to step into your shoes can often lead to suggestions for less invasive or aggressive means to manage a problem, and you may want to try those first. 

(Image:  Google/123RF.com)

By Executive Order on June 1st, law offices can now re-open for business.  So, we have returned to our usual business hours.

We have made some changes since March 24th, however.  We want to keep you safe and make sure you are comfortable when you meet with us.  So, we have implemented the following protocols for you:

  • We will have you wait in your car until we have a conference room ready for you, so you will never sit in our lobby.
  • We will wear a mask when we meet with you.
  • If we will be passing you documents to sign, we will be wearing gloves.
  • If you need to sign documents, we will give you a never-used pen in a plastic sleeve.
  • We will have thoroughly wiped down the conference room between uses.

We understand if you are not yet comfortable meeting us in person.  We are still offering Zoom conferences and good old-fashioned telephone calls!  Just let us know how we can best serve you.  We look forward to working with you again very soon. 

(Image:  Clipart Library)

It’s pretty certain that the Coronavirus quarantine has sent all of us to our electronic devices more than ever as we search for reliable information about the virus (or just pass the time playing Candy Crush!).  Merrill Lynch recently sent a timely warning about protecting your online financial and personal information during these unusual times.

The article pointed out that online scams, such as fake websites and phishing emails, are being revised to look like they offer health information or pointers for how to stay safe. In reality, these scams can steal your personal information or load malware onto your computer.

Recent scams include:

An App to track Coronavirus cases. This app uses maps that resemble those from legitimate health organization but contains malware that can freeze your computer.

Phishing Scams. A fraudulent email may say it is from the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control but requests personal information and has links to malware-infected sites.

Robocalls. The caller offers to help collect government stimulus payments as a cover for gathering your personal information.

How do you protect yourself?

Use secure wireless networks that require a password.

Don’t use public wi-fi networks.

Don’t respond to emails from unknown sender and don’t click on the links in the email.

Verify messages even if you know the sender.  If something seems suspicious, then call the sender to verify whether he sent the email.

Stay up-to-date with the latest software and security patches.

If you’ve been targeted:

          Don’t delay, act quickly after any suspicious activity.

          Call the police and file reports.

          Document everything about the incident.

          Change all passwords.

          Contact your bank to freeze transactions immediately.

Tell friends and family to be on alert for suspicious emails that appear to come from you.

          Monitor your bank accounts for anything unusual.

For even more information about these types of scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s advice page. Please stay safe!

(Google Image from kitchenertoday.com)

All of us at Legal Strategies understand the seriousness of the Corona virus. We want you to stay healthy.  And we want to be healthy when we can see you again face to face. So, we will be honoring the Governor’s mandate to shelter in place.

However, we also know that your legal work is important and can be time-sensitive. We understand that not being able to get answers can add even more stress to these trying times.  In fact, the virus precautions may have created more legal questions for you, such as how to handle financial affairs for your parents if you can’t visit them, how to get signatures on real estate documents, etc.

We want to try to balance the need for social distancing with your need for answers to your legal questions. So, even though I will be working from home, I will be monitoring my email inbox and my voice messages. I can also be available for phone conferences or on-line meetings if you need me.

The probate courts are closed.  They are not holding any hearings at this time.  They are only handling “emergencies” such as petitions involving mental health commitments or life-threatening medical emergencies. Even if you don’t have an “emergency”, as the Court might define that, I am still here to talk about what issues you are facing. And we can still prepare paperwork and have it ready for you to sign or to go to the probate court on the first day that is possible.

If you have a legal issue that cannot wait, please call my office at (586) 783-8350, or better yet, email me at [email protected], and we will get through this together.

Do you think you might still have life insurance, but you can’t find the policy?  Do you think a deceased relative had a policy that no one has ever claimed?  If so, you might be able to find it on the State of Michigan’s unclaimed property website:  https://unclaimedproperty.michigan.gov

If you don’t know the name of the insurance company, you can try using the Life Insurance Policy Locator, a national database that is run by the state insurance regulators at:  https://eapps.naic.org/life-policy-locator/#/welcome

Once a request is made to locate a policy, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners will ask all of its participating companies to search their records for a match.

If your deceased loved one was in the military in the pre-Vietnam era or was a service-disabled veteran, you can also search at:  https://insurance.va.gov/unclaimedfunds

Paper Blizzard

At the start of a new year, when tax documents are issued, many folks wonder how long they have to keep their old tax records.  If you are eager to shred your old records, you should be aware of the IRS rules for what to keep and how long.

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/how-long-should-i-keep-records

The IRS recommends that you keep tax records for three years, unless:

  •   You did not file a return;
  •   You filed a fraudulent return; or
  •   You did not report income that you should have reported.

If you filed a claim for a refund after you filed your return, then you should keep records for three years from the date you originally filed, or two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.

You should keep employment tax records for a least four years after the date the tax was due, or the date the tax was paid, whichever is later.

The IRS also recommends that even if you no longer need your records to tax purposes, you should not discard them until you check to see if you need them for other purposes.  For example, if you bought real estate as part of 1031 exchange, you will need to keep the records for both properties until after you dispose of the new property.  Also, if you have an insurance claim, or are negotiating with creditors, you may need to keep records longer than the IRS would require. It never hurts to ask before you shred a document that you might need later.

If you are new to estate planning,

and don’t know where to start,

contact us today for a FREE CONSULTATION.

Legal Strategies, P.C. 

Terri North is the Macomb County, Michigan attorney who heads up the Legal Strategies practice. Legal Strategies assists clients in the areas of estate planning, probate and real estate. 
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