– Michigan’s New Qualified Dispositions In Trust Act Makes Asset Protection Easier

Episode Video

Episode Podcast

Tom discusses Michigan’s new Qualified Dispositions in Trust Act that makes it easier to create a trust to protect your assets from your creditors. Find out how simple it can now be to protect what you own from risks of lawsuits and creditors.

– How to Access Your College Student’s Record Under The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

Do you have children in college? Are you a student in college? Let’s talk about FERPA.

FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. It is a federal law, enacted in 1974, that applies to all schools that receive federal funding from programs administered by the Department of Education. The law is designed to (1) protect the privacy of student education records, (2) establish the right of students to inspect or review their education records, and (3) provide guidelines for the correction of inaccurate or misleading information. When students are minors these rights vest with parents. Rights transfer from parents to students once a student turns 18 or enters a postsecondary institution.

Educational records might include grades, transcripts, class lists, course schedules, financial information, or student discipline files directly related to a student.

Students attending a postsecondary institution have several important rights in relation to their education records. They can inspect or review their records, as well as seek to amend legitimate errors. More importantly, students have some control over the release of information from their education records. For example, a student can give written consent to their university or college to release information to parents, employers, or other third parties.

A student’s consent for disclosure must be made in writing and provided to the postsecondary institution. FERPA doesn’t allow oral consent for disclosure of information from education records. Schools are required to notify students annually of their FERPA rights even though the actual means of notification is left to each school’s discretion.

Schools may also disclose directory information without prior consent in certain situations. Under FERPA, information from education records is considered directory information if it isn’t generally considered harmful or an invasion of privacy if disclosed. Directory information might include a student’s name, address, email address, enrollment status, field of study, degrees pursued, or honors and awards received. But the school must notify students about directory information and allow them a reasonable amount of time to request that their directory information not be disclosed. Again, a student’s request to restrict disclosure of directory information must be made in writing. A request must be honored until the school is notified otherwise.

The Family Policy Compliance Office of the Department of Education handles any alleged FERPA violations. Complaints must be timely filed or submitted to the office within 180 days of the date that the student knew or should’ve known of the violation.

– How to Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Scam

In this week’s “Tuesday with Tom”, Tom and his associate Amanda Bevel discuss many of the common scams that are being run to separate you from your money. They point out a number red flags that should alert you to a possible scam, provide tips on how to avoid becoming a victim, and list a number of resources that you can use to check out an offer that you receive and/or to report a scam.

How to Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Scam

Listen to Tom’s Interview of Steve Peckham, Certified Funeral Planner

Tom interviews Steve Peckam, Certified Funeral Consultant, and owner of Mid-Michigan Funeral Consulting.

Steve talks about:
– Pre-planning your funeral
– Creating a funeral planning checklist
– Involving your family in your planning
– Whether you should pre-pay for your funeral
– Things to know when planning a traditional funeral
– Whether you have to buy your casket from the funeral home
– Things to know about cremation
– The Importance of shopping around
– and much more

Click HERE to listen to the interview on Tuesday with Tom

Report Shows Electronic Health Records Fail to Let Doctors Obtain Advance Directives

You enrolled in the DocuBank electronic registry for advance directives to make sure your advance directives (i.e. Health Care Powers of Attorney) are always available at the hospital. Now there are new reasons why you need this instant access.

Doctors cannot easily get hold of their patients’ advance directives at the hospital, even in an emergency, and, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) don’t help solve this availability problem, according to a news report in USA Today/Kaiser Health News.

Advance directives, as you may recall, are the documents that give you control over your medical care if you’re unable to speak for yourself. We helped you create these documents as part of your estate plan. In your advance directive you designated someone to make health care decisions for you if you can’t and also gave guidance on the types of treatments you would or would not want.

Ironically, electronic medical records, which are supposed to help find patient information, create their own problems, the article explains. One problem is that different medical records are incompatible, meaning that hospitals usually can’t share your advance directive among them or even, more surprisingly, between different departments of the same hospital. As a result, you could be admitted to an Emergency Department, which may have one EHR, and it might not be able to get hold of your advance directive in the hospital’s main EHR.

Another problem is that it takes too long to find your advance directive because most EHRs aren’t set up to store one. “If [medical staff are] not able to access the advance directive quickly and easily, they’re honestly likely not to use it,” says Torrie Fields, senior program manager for palliative care at Blue Shield of California.

In addition, the article affirms what we already know: patients frequently (and understandably) forget to bring their advance directives with them.

Lack of availability of your advance directive can be an especially big problem in the ER, where it’s extremely important that your doctors and loved ones have instant access to these documents and therefore to your wishes. A survey of ER doctors last year found that 93% are “less frustrated” when advance directives are “easily accessible,” and the vast majority of them said the documents let them provide better care and that family members are more satisfied.

New Michigan Legislation Affecting Estate Planning

Last week Gov. Snyder signed 2 new pieces of legislation that can affect an estate plan.

Senate Bill 551 contains several amendments to Michigan’s Probate Code (EPIC) allowing you to designate a “Funeral Representative” who will have the power to make decisions about your funeral arrangements. Before enactment of these amendments, Michigan law established an order of priority for who had authority to plan your funeral, and you could not change it. Now, you  can designate a person who will have that authority.

The second piece of legislation is the “Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act”. Among other things, this legislation creates the procedures for how you can give legal authority to an individual to access your digital assets (i.e. email, Facebook, twitter, etc.) in the event of your incapacity or death. The legislation overcomes many of the limitations on access to your digital assets created by Terms of Service Agreements. The legislation, also, establishes what you need to do if you do not want a fiduciary to have access to your digital assets.