Dolores M. Coulter

Attorney at Law

8341 Office Park Dr. Ste C

Grand Blanc, MI 48439

Phone:  (810) 603-0801




Frequently Asked Questions


The following questions and answers are taken from a column that Dolores Coulter wrote for several Genesee County senior center newsletters.

College Expenses:  Q:  I would like to set aside some money to help pay for college education expenses for my grandchildren but I am also worried about what will happen if my circumstances change and I need the money for myself in the future.  Discussion

Elder Abuse and Neglect:  Q:  I work at a senior center.  A local pharmacy contacted the center regarding one of their elderly customers who was having difficulty understanding directions and would become agitated for no apparent reason.  A staff person contacted a family member of the customer who explained that the family was trying to cope with a difficult situation.  The husband  has been diagnosed with dementia, but still continues to drive.  His wife has talked about moving into assisted living, but the husband refuses to consider it and has told his wife not to discuss it with the rest of the family.  The family is also concerned that the husband may become violent.  They have spoken to a lawyer about guardianship and conservatorship.  The family doctor has written a letter expressing his concerns and indicating that guardianship or conservatorship is warranted.  We want to help but are not sure what to do.  Discussion

Gifts to Family Members and Medicaid:  Q. I would like to give some money to my children or grandchildren but Iím a little confused about how this would affect my taxes or what would happen if I have to apply for Medicaid.  I have heard that I can give away $14,000.00 to my family members without having to worry about any taxes.  However I have also heard about a five year lookback period for Medicaid if I give money to family members.  Discussion 

Guardian and Conservator: Q:  What happens if the court appoints a guardian and conservator for someone?  Does that mean that the person no longer has any right to make their own decisions?  Discussion

Handwritten Wills:  Q:  I am thinking about writing my own will.  I donít have a lot of property and I donít want to spend a lot of money on estate planning.  Is a handwritten will legal?  Discussion

Joint Property:  Q:  I added my son and my two daughtersí names on the deed to my house when my husband died.  Now my son is in the middle of a divorce and his wife is claiming that she is going to get half of my house in the divorce.  Is this true?  Even if it is true, should she get half even though she was at fault in breaking up the marriage?  What should I do?  Can I take his name off the deed right now?    Discussion 

Q:  I want to avoid probate so I added my daughter's name on my deed and my bank accounts.  When I mention this to my friend she said that she had heard that this might not be a good estate planning strategy.  Is that right?  Discussion

Living Trusts:  Q:  What is a living trust?  If I have a living trust do I also need a will?  Discussion

Putting Home in a Trust:  Q:  Why do some attorneys recommend that a home should not be put into a trust and others recommend that it should be?  Discussion

Reverse Mortgages:  Q:  I see a lot of ads about reverse mortgages.  How do I know whether a reverse mortgage is a good idea?  Discussion

Second Marriages:  Q:  My husband and I have been married for 30 years.  It is a second marriage for both of us and we both have children from our first marriages.  How can we ensure that after the second spouse dies our estate will be divided among our combined children and not just the children of the second spouse?   Discussion

Small Estates:  Q:  Before my mother died she added my sister and I as beneficiaries on all her accounts so her estate would not have to go through probate. However when we were going through her papers we found out that she also owned some shares of stock and had another small bank account that was just in her name.  Does this mean that we have to probate her estate?  Iím worried about the cost because the total amount involved is less than $3,000.00.  Discussion

Q.  My husband died recently.  All of our property, except for his car, was either in our joint names or I was the beneficiary on his accounts, so I didnít think I would have to worry about probate.  However, my husbandís brother died about six months before he did and left him a small inheritance.  Now his brotherís attorney is telling me that I will have to open a probate estate for my husband, but that it should be simple because the amount is under $50,000.00.  Is that right?  Discussion

Q:  My uncle passed away recently. He was in a nursing home and had about $250.00 in the patient trust account at the nursing home.  He also had a car in his name which my aunt was using until she became ill.  My aunt has asked me to help her with getting her financial affairs in order.  My uncle left a will leaving everything to my aunt.  Does she have to go through probate to get the car in her name and the $250.00?  Discussion

Social Security Garnishments:  Q.  I have a lot of medical bills and some other bills that I canít afford to pay that have been turned over to collection agencies.  I need all of my income, which is just Social Security and a small pension, to pay my regular monthly expenses.  I have no money left at the end of the month to pay the old bills. Iím worried that the collection agencies might be able to take the money in my bank account.  Can they do that?   Discussion

Special Needs Trusts:  Q:  I have an adult niece who is disabled and lives with my sister and her husband.  They donít have a lot of money and I would like to leave some money in my will to help take care of my niece.  She receives SSI and Medicaid. I donít want to do anything that would cause her to lose those benefits.  Discussion

Unrecorded Deeds:  Q:  I want to give my home to my daughter after I die but I donít want the house to go through probate.  Can I sign a deed now that puts the house in her name, but then keep the deed with my other important papers and tell her she can take the deed and  record it after I die?  Discussion





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