Friendly Reminders for the Snow Season

The winter season has begun in Michigan and snow is falling all over Michigan.  With this in mind, we would like to point out some friendly reminders to help keep you safe during these snowy months.

(1) Always shovel the outside areas of your home.  If you cannot do so because of the amount of snow or lack of equipment, contact your city official to inform of the situation.

(2) If you live in an Apartment, Condo, or other Housing Association, ask them if you are required to shovel snow or if they will be doing that task.  If you are not responsible for shoveling and notice a walkway, driveway, or other avenue of travel is not shoveled, please inform the Property Manager or other appropriate personnel to address the situation.

(3) When the weather gets bad or temperatures drop below freezing, talk with your company to see if they will allow a snow day or allow workers to telecommute work from home.

(4) And of course, if for any reason you do not feel comfortable to drive (or enjoyed too much holiday eggnog), please arrange other transportation or stay home.

Thank you and Enjoy the snow if you can.

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Michigan Residents: We will pay to fix the roads

A recent finding by the Center of Michigan, in effort to determine where public opinions stands, found that the conditions of the roads are high on residents’ radar.  The article quotes, “Seven out of 10 participants in the Center for Michigan’s Community Conversations said the state’s roads, bridges and infrastructure are an urgent priority, compared with only 8 percent who said roads aren’t a priority or that we shouldn’t invest in repairs.”  Further, polls have indicated that more than half of Michigan residents are willing to pay more in taxes so that the roads can be fixed.  If taxes were to go up to pay to fix the roads, politicians may not receive a harsh backlash.  The article also states that Michigan is the last in the country on per capita road spending.  

 

What are your opinions on the condition of Michigan roads?  Would you be willing to pay higher taxes to fix the roads? 

   

Estate Planning Concerns facing the LGBT Community

At Nichol & Doering, PLLC, we always stress the importance of having estate planning documents with our clients.  These documents include Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney (both general and medical).  With these documents, you can tell others how to take care of yourself and your family when you are no longer able to do so.  Having these in place is very important for LGBT Community, especially while the case for Gay Marriage here in Michigan is pending in the Michigan Supreme Court.  A good set of estate planning documents will ensure that LGBT couples can make the same decisions as their heterosexual counterparts. 

Before we get into detail about why the documents are important, let us go through a brief overview of what all these documents are.  First, there are two different kinds of Powers of Attorney, first a Medical Power of Attorney and a Durable Power of Attorney.  A Medical Power of Attorney allows an individual (the Principal) to designate another individual as his or her Patient Advocate.  The Patient Advocate is permitted to speak with doctors and make medical decisions on behalf of the Principal according the language in the document.  A Durable Power of Attorney works in the same way as a Medical Power of Attorney where the Principal is appointing an Agent to make decisions on their behalf.  These decisions are usually financial in nature, such as maintaining bank accounts, paying bills, selling property, and can include anything that it is not medically-related.

Wills and Trusts are documents that express the wishes of an individual on how he or she wants their family and property taken care of when they are no longer here.  These are extremely important for parents with minor children as both documents have the ability to appoint a Guardian for the minor children.  The basic difference between the two is that a Trust gives an individual more control on how and when a person can receive property from their estate, whereas a Will designates what will be done with property.

For the LGBT community and couples in particular, having these documents will be important for several reasons.  First, in the context of Powers of Attorney, LGBT couples do not have the “Next of Kin” rights that heterosexual couples have.  Therefore, it is likely that doctors and other professionals will not speak about medical decisions with the LGBT partner.  But with a Medical Power of Attorney, the Patient Advocate can speak with the doctors regardless of that person’s relationship to the Principal.  The same applies to a Durable Power of Attorney.

Second, LGBT couples do not have the same protections as heterosexual couples when it comes to children.  Because Michigan does not currently have Gay Adoption, whoever has been designated as the legal parent cannot guarantee that his or her partner will be the legal parent if he or she passes away.  However, by having a Will or Trust, an individual can designate his or her partner as the Guardian of the children should he or she pass away before the children reach 18 years of age.

Additionally, without a Will or Trust, a person’s property would go through intestacy and be divided amongst his or her heirs.  In this situation, an LGBT partner would not be considered an heir to that person’s property.  With a properly drafted Will or Trust, a person can devise their property to whomever they wish.

We hope that this provides you a good insight into the importance for LGBT couples to discuss estate planning with themselves and an attorney.   Thank you for taking the time to read our blog and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments.

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Stronger truancy ordinance in Ypsilanti Township

The article discusses how Ypsilanti Township is considered increasing enforcement on children skipping school, also known as truancy.  The ordinance would include monetary fines for truancy and increase for a second offense.

If you are having truancy or other juvenile legal issues with your children, please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.

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Issue on Raising Minimum Wage Reaches Michigan

The group “Raise Michigan” is trying to get issue of raising the minimum wage in the State on the ballot in November.  On Monday, the group sought approval to collect signatures for the initiative and will need to get over 250,000 before May to do so.  Current minimum wage in Michigan is $7.40.  Raise Michigan is advocating for a change to $9.50.

 

What are your opinion?  Should Michigan raise the minimum wage or will such a change have a negative effect on Michigan’s economy?  Share your thoughts below.

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Ann Arbor could fine smokers under new smoking ordinance

The city of Ann Arbor is looking to pass a new smoking ordinance that would prohibit smoking at bus stops and other public areas such as city parks.  Smokers would be ticketed and possibly face a $50 fine.  Those in support of the ordinance contend that the new ordinance will promote officers to enforce no-smoking ordinances already in place.

 

What is your opinion?  Should smokers be fined for smoking outdoors?  Would support a similar ordinance in your city or town?

Leave your comments below. We would love to hear your thoughts on this issue.