Estate planning is important, no matter how small your estate may be. It allows you, while you are still living, to ensure that your property will go to the people you want, in the way you want, and when you want. It permits you to save as much as possible on taxes, court costs and attorneys' fees, and it affords the comfort that your loved ones can mourn your loss without being simultaneously burdened with unnecessary red tape and financial confusion. All estate plans should include, at minimum, two important estate planning instruments: a durable power of attorney and a will. The first is for managing your property during your life, in case you are ever unable to do so yourself. The second is for the management and distribution of your property after death. In addition to these planning instruments, more and more Americans today are using revocable (or "living") trusts to avoid probate and to manage their estates both during their lives and after they're gone. A complete estate plan should also include a medical directive that may encompass a number of different documents, including a health care proxy, a durable power of attorney for health care, a living will, and medical instructions.
Our attorneys work with clients to develop personalized strategies for family wealth preservation, as well as achieving philanthropic goals. Common estate planning techniques employed include:
family limited partnerships
irrevocable life insurance trusts
charitable remainder trusts
charitable lead trusts
grantor retained annuity trusts
qualified personal residence trusts
Probate and Trust Administration
Logically following estate planning is probate and trust administration putting the plan into operation. We represent fiduciaries and beneficiaries in all Michigan probate courts by filing the necessary pleadings to admit a decedent's will to probate, preparing all documents and filings required under Michigan laws and procedures, and preparing income tax returns for the estate, as well as any required estate tax returns. Trust administration does not usually require court pleadings or filings, but many of the same administration, distribution or tax issues are present and require attention. In this area, our attorneys counsel fiduciaries regarding the rights and interests of beneficiaries, and recommend steps or actions to help the fiduciary operate the trust in compliance with the appropriate fiduciary laws and avoid personal liability for their actions, or inaction. We take special care during these difficult times to represent families with caring and compassionate counsel, guidance and direction. We are well aware of the stress that legal proceedings often times add to a difficult situation, and strive to complete the formal process as quickly as possible while maintaining an eye towards your expressed goals. Experience enables us to counsel surviving spouses and children during this transition and help them make sound legal decisions for their future.
Special Needs Trusts
A Special Needs Trust can be an important planning tool for families. As the beneficiary of the trust, a disabled person can have money available for items that can enhance the quality of life, while still maintaining eligibility for government benefit programs. A Special Needs Trust should be considered if you
Have received-or anticipate receiving-significant funds, for example, through a personal injury settlement, litigation, gift or inheritance;
Receive need-based government benefit programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid;
Are not currently enrolled in these programs, but could benefit from the income and services available through such need-based government programs.
A Special Needs Trust offers the following advantages:
Allows you to transfer your assets into the trust without incurring any transfer penalty for the purpose of SSI or Medicaid eligibility.
Allows you to have funds available for supplemental goods and services without jeopardizing eligibility for government benefit programs that have income or resource limits. Trust assets can be used to purchase equipment and services that are not paid for by benefit programs, but are important to the quality of life.
Provides a structure for accountability and for managing financial assets to your benefit.
Allows designation of successor trustees, to assure that there will be an individual or entity responsible for management of the trust assets throughout your lifetime.
Can be coordinated with other parts of the family's estate plan and designated to receive additional funds, such as inheritances or gifts from family members. This minimizes the risk of your disqualification from government benefit programs due to excess resources.
Attorneys at the Depot Law Offices regularly advise clients in this complicated area of the law. Please contact us today to see if a Special Needs Trust is right for your particular situation.
Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides health insurance coverage to low-income children, seniors and people with disabilities. Medicaid also covers care in a nursing home for those who qualify. In the absence of other public assistance covering long-term care, Medicaid has become the default nursing home insurance of the middle class. Depending on the state, nursing home residents generally do not have to sell their homes in order to qualify for Medicaid. In some states, the home will not be considered a countable asset for Medicaid eligibility purposes as long as the nursing home resident intends to return home; in other states, the nursing home resident must prove a likelihood of returning home. In all states, the house may be kept if the Medicaid applicant's spouse or another dependent relative lives there. We are aware of all of the rules and regulations regarding Medicaid and applicable Michigan and federal guidelines, and can provide sound legal advice and planning strategies in this rapidly changing area of the law.
Business/Commercial Law and Real Estate
Our trial lawyers are adept at achieving the business objectives of our clients in all types of cases. Our attorneys have business and real estate backgrounds and experiences as varied as the clients we serve. We advise clients on planning and litigation strategies when and whether to settle or to fight disputes and whether to pursue good faith negotiations, alternative dispute resolution, arbitration or litigation. Our business and real estate attorneys are actively engaged and experienced in the representation of our clients in a wide variety of practice areas, including:
organization and formation of corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and other business entities
business purchases and sales
mergers and acquisitions
contract drafting and negotiation
employee relations employee benefit plan counseling
municipal, county, state, and federal government issues, land use, planning and zoning
commercial and residential real estate acquisitions and sales
financing and development construction law.
We develop "partnerships" with our clients that are based on consistent communication and frequent interaction. This results in a productive client-attorney relationship and allows us to anticipate our clients' needs and requirements. What makes this partnership succeed is our ability to assist our clients, both large and small, at every stage in designing and planning strategies, and in implementing the plan. Our business background and training allows us to develop personalized plans that meet the demands of today's competitive business environment. We are results-oriented and have an outstanding track record for carefully creating and monitoring innovative programs that precisely address our clients' diverse needs.
Social Security Disability
Disability can pose an insurmountable obstacle to earning a living. If you or a family member suffer from an injury or disease that prevents you from working, or is expected to prevent you from working for one year or longer, then you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. Our attorneys have experience in obtaining Social Security benefits on behalf of disabled persons. We are able to guide you through the overwhelming maze of regulation and red tape that characterizes the application process. If you have been denied by Social Security or are simply considering whether you should apply, please contact us today.
Our firm represents creditors in a wide range of contexts, including:
Workouts Loan Documentation
Lender Liability Defenses
We take a practical approach to debtor/creditor disputes, recognizing the risk and cost of litigation, and the significant value of speedy resolution.
Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation
We handle all types of significant personal injury and wrongful death cases. Personal injuries not only cause physical pain, but often emotional and financial hardship through loss of work, medical bills and stress placed upon families and loved ones. If you have suffered physical or emotional injuries due to another's acts, you may be entitled to bring a personal injury claim to recover for your damages. Recoverable damages include past and future medical expenses, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment, disfigurement, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity. Examples of personal injury and wrongful death claims handled by our firm include the following:
Automobile and Motor Vehicle Accidents
Trucking Litigation and Eighteen Wheeler Accidents
Dog and Animal Attacks
Slip, Trip, and Falls
Insurance Disputes and Claims
Workers' Compensation is a benefit that is available to nearly all employees who suffer an injury that arose out of and in the course of their employment. Work related injuries typically covered by workers' compensation include:
carpal tunnel/repetitive trauma injuries
work-related emotional problems
work-induced heart attack or stroke
occupational diseases such as asbestosis and dermatitis; disfigurement and scarring of face, neck or hands asthma or other work related pulmonary conditions
loss of use of limbs
When you are hurt while performing your duties as an employee there is a specialized area of legislation that governs from whom and how much you can recover. This differs from other types of injuries. We are devoted to assisting our clients in working through this complicated area of law in order to receive a fair settlement from all possible sources. The issues that arise most often in these matters are:
Whether you were an employee at the time of the injury.
Was the injury received while you were on the job?
Was there an injury?
What benefits are you entitled to?
Was the injury permanent?
Are you entitled to a settlement?
Should you accept a settlement?
Employment law covers a complex network of laws that controls how employers must treat employees, former employees, and applicants for employment. We represent private and public sector employers in all aspects of the employer/employee relationship, from pre-hire to post-termination. Our attorneys have significant experience in interpreting and construing state and federal statutes and case law in areas involving:
retaliatory or wrongful discharge claims
We also handle cases alleging defamation, invasion of privacy, breach of non-compete and confidentiality agreements, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN), the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA), the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), administrative claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and special laws governing municipal employment. Our goal is to provide sound, practical and proactive legal advice in order to assist our clients in avoiding litigation and other adversarial proceedings. We encourage the use of, and have successfully utilized facilitative mediation and arbitration to minimize the time and expense related to resolving employment disputes.
Criminal Defense (State and Federal Crimes)
We have the experience and ability to handle all types of serious state and federal criminal cases. There is an inequality of power and material resources in the criminal justice system. The government has a large staff of lawyers, police and agents, sophisticated crime labs and experts, and a huge budget provided by the taxpayers. This gives them a tremendous advantage because the legalsystem is based on the premise that "the whole truth" is that presented at the trial. If a defendant cannot challenge the government's case, or submit his or her own witnesses, then the jury by default will probably accept as true whatever evidence the prosecutor produces. We represent clients in all types of criminal cases, from minor infractions and misdemeanors to the most serious felonies, including:
Battery, Assault and other Violent Crimes
Drug and Narcotic Sales and Possession
Theft and Grand Larceny
White Collar Crimes
Domestic Assault and Abuse Cases
Probation Revocation and Parole
Attorney David Allen Makled is a former prosecutor and knows how the system works. Let him put his experience to work for you. If you are under investigation, have been contacted by Michigan authorities, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or have been charged by the United States Government with a federal crime, please contact us today.
We defend individuals and businesses charged with all state and local offenses including driving while intoxicated (DWI) (DUI) (OWI), reckless driving, speeding, operating after suspension, operating without insurance, and truck overweight matters, to name a few. We can assure you that your driving privileges, your liberty and welfare are best placed with us when legal problems present themselves. If you have been charged with any type of driving violation from the least serious to the most serious you need expert representation. Our attorneys have successfully defended through settlement, bench and jury trials hundreds of such cases. We help our clients successfully negotiate the criminal justice system and provide outstanding representation in all facets of the law.