Click one of the categories below to see just answers to frequently asked questions about that topic. Or scroll down to see all of our FAQs.

All Frequently Asked Questions

Does a traffic violation have any legal consequences?

Although most traffic tickets are considered civil infractions (and therefore incarceration is not possible), most offenses have significant legal consequences. The biggest mistake people make is simply paying the fine and thinking that the matter is over. By pleading responsible, you are likely incurring points on your Secretary of State driving record. Almost every traffic offense has a penalty of points.

There are many consequences to receiving points on your record. First, you run the risk of losing your license because the Secretary of State detemines that you are not a safe driving, and thereby revokes your privilege to drive in Michigan. Additionally, insurance premiums can skyrocket after the insurance company learns of the addition of points on your record. Since most insurance companies look back over 3-5 years on your record, just one ticket can end up costing you thousands of dollars in additional insurance premiums.

What do you need an attorney for traffic matter? Because some prosecutors or city attorneys are not willing to negotiate or reduce traffic tickets when people are unrepresented. An experienced attorney that is familiar with the court system can assist you and negotiate on your behalf. Don't just pay your ticket, seek advice first that could save you money in the long run.

What is a living will or patient advocate?

A living will or patient advocate is a common term used to describe what is know as Designation of Patient Advocate ("DPA") under Michigan law. A DPA is a legal document that allows a person over the age of 18 to appoint an agent to make decisions and exercises powers concerning care, custody, and medical or mental health treatment. The DPA only becomes effective when the patient is unable to participate in his or her medical or mental health treatment decisions because of illness or disability.

What are the requirements of a DPA?

The legal requirments for a patient advocate are set forth by a Michigan statute in the Estates and Protected Individuals Code. That statute sets forth four basic requirements for a DPA:

  1. Must in writing and dated
  2. Must be witnessed by at least two people who are not related to the patient
  3. Must be made part of the patient's medical record
  4. The patient advocate must accept the designation as patient advocate before he can act

Can a DPA be revoked?

A DPA may be revoked by the patient at any time by communicating, in any manner, an intent to revoke the DPA.

A DPA may also be made irrevocable in some circumstances.

What are the powers and duties of a patient advocate?

Michigan law provides that a properly draft patient advocate document can confer upon the designated patient advocate the right to make any medical decision the patient could make if she was able to do so for herself. Such powers include:

  • The power to make decisions about anotomical gifts
  • The power to select medical care or treatment options such as Hospice
  • The power to force inpatient hospitalization or administration of medicine
  • The power to make decisions about witholding or withdrawing medical treatment which may result in the patient's death.

These broad powers can be limited in an individually drafted patient advocate. In any case, the patient advocate is held to an extremly high standard of care in the administration of his duties.

How does a patient advocate invoke his or her powers?

A patient advocate that has been appointed and has accepted the appointment may only exercise her powers under the DPA when the patient is not able to participate in medical treatment decisions. This determination is made by the patient’s attending physician or a physician designated by the patient in the DPA, such as a family doctor, after an examination of the patient.

Michigan law also provides for an expedited court procedure for determining a patient’s ability to participate in medical decisions should a dispute arise.

Once the powers of the patient advocate are invoke, they remain in effect for as long as the patient is not able to participate in his medical decisions.

What is probate?

The term probate refers to the legal process by which a person's property (the probate estate) is distributed to his or her heirs after death. The probate process is under the jurisdiction of the the Michigan Probate Court system. In some cases the probate court directly supervises the administration of the estate. In other cases, the supervision is in formal. In all cases, the administration of the probate estate is directly managed by a personal representative who is formally or informally appointed by the court.

Generally speaking, the probate processing involves 3 steps:

Collection of the assets. During this phase the personal representative must assemble, secure and prepare a complete inventory of the assets of the estate.
Payment of charges and debts. Once the assets are gathered, the PR must pay the any valid claims against the estate from the estate's assets. Such debts may include funeral expenses, taxes, debts to creditors, attorneys fees and general costs of administration
Distribution of the assets. The final step in the process is for the PR to distribute the remaining assets according to the deceased individuals will (or Michigan's intestate succession laws if there is no will.)

What is a limited liability company or LLC?

to a corporation that allows businesses and investors to limit their liability exposure in a particular business to the amount of their investment thereby protection the owners personal assets. The limited liability company is similar in many respects to a corporation. However, a limited liability company is more flexible in terms of the ownership structure, management structure, and flexibility for taxation. LLC's are often used by businesses, investors, or individuals who wish to engage in a particular enterprise and desire to limit their exposure to any potential liability. A LLC protects its members from personal liability from the debts, claims, and creditors of the LLC. The liabilities of the LLC may only be satisfied out of the assets of the LLC. For example, imagine an LLC that was organized to own and operate a restaurant. Let's say the LLC had assets (real estate, accounts receivables, and cash) in the amount of $250,000. Let's further assume that the two members (owners) of the LLC had personal assets (homes, retirement accounts, cash) exceeding $500,000. Now let's assume that a liability such as a personal injury claim arose against the restaurant and that the plaintiff obtained a judgment in the amount of $400,000. The plaintiff could only satisfy the judgment out of the $25,000 assets of the LLC; he could not satisfy the balance of his judgment out of the members' personal assets. This feature of the LLC--the limited liability feature--allows business owners or individuals to separate their business assets from their personal assets and limit their liability to their capital investment

What types of ownership structure are possible for a limited liability company?

In Michigan, there are two classes of LLCs: manager-managed LLC and member-managed LLC. The organizers of the LLC elect whether the LLC is to be a member-managed LLC or a manager-managed LLC in the articles of organization. A manager-managed LLC is an LLC whose daily business operations are managed by one or more managers who are elected by the members. This type of LLC may be used in situations where there are some silent investors or partners who contribute capital to the LLC but are not interested in the daily management of the LLC, or in situation where there are several members and it would be inefficient for each member to have a say in the daily management of the LLC. A member-managed LLC is an LLC whose daily business operations are managed by the members. The daily management of this LLC is handled by the members alone. In this case, each member has an equal say in the operation of the business unless the members agree otherwise (such an agreement would typically be outlined in an operating agreement). A member-managed LLC is usually selected in situations where there are a small number of members.

Can I convert my existing partnership to an LLC?

Many people who decide to form an LLC already have an existing business that has been operated for several years as a partnership or sole proprietorship. Often owners of these businesses learn about LLCs and decide that they want to take advantage of the liability protection offered by the LLC.

Any partnership or sole proprietorship may easily convert into an LLC. In the case of an existing business converting to an LLC, the process is essentially the same. The owner of the sole proprietorship or the partners of the partnership form an LLC and begin operating their business under the new entity. As with all LLCs, it is important to transfer the assets that will be used in conjunction with the business to the LLC. For example, if the business is a lawn and landscape service the sole proprietorship or partnership should transfer the assets (lawn mowers, etc.) to the newly formed LLC. A simple bill of sale can accomplish this.

Finally, it is important that the owners of the existing business which will convert into an LLC terminate the old partnership or sole proprietorship. In Michigan, this usually can be done at the local county clerks office.

What is the Michigan Seller's Disclosure Act?

The Michigan Seller's Disclosure Act is a Michigan law that applies to transactions involving residential real estate. The Act requires that sellers of residential real estate make certain disclosures about the property to the prospective purchaser.

When does the Seller's Disclosure Act Apply?

The Seller's Disclosure Act (the "Act") applies to all transfers of interest in residential real property, including multi-unit residential properties of up to 4 units, including:

  • Sales
  • Exchanges
  • Land contract
  • Leases with option to purchase
  • Transfers of stock in a residential cooperative
  • Ground leases coupled with proposed improvements by purchaser
  • All other purchase options

When doesn't the Seller's Disclosure Act Apply?

The Act does not apply to:

  • Transfers pursuant to a court order
  • Transfers to a mortgagee by a mortgagor or successor in interest who is in default
  • Transfers as a result of a foreclosure proceeding
  • Transfer's by fiduciaries who do not occupy the property (personal representatives, guardians, and conservators.)
  • Transfers between co-tenants
  • Transfers to a spouse, parent, grandparent, child, or grandchild
  • Transfers between spouse as the result of a judgment of divorce
  • Transfers or exchanges from any governmental entity (tax sale properties)
  • Transfers of newly constructed homes by licensed contractors

Who is required to make the disclosure under the Seller's Disclosure Act?

The Disclosure must be made by the seller or transferor of the property.

When must the disclosure be given?

In sales transactions, the Disclosure must be given prior to execution of a binding purchase agreement. In installment sales contracts where no binding purchase agreement has been executed, must be given before purchaser executes binding sales contract.

How must the disclosure by delivered?

The Disclosure may be delivered in person, by registered mail, or by facsimile.

Should the Seller's Disclosure Act be addressed in the purchase agreement?

Yes. The Act requires the purchase agreement or sales contract indicate that the Act has been complied with.

What happens if the Disclosure Statement is not provided by the Seller before the purchase agreement is signed?

The purchaser may terminate the purchase agreement within 72 hours of receiving the Disclosure if delivered in person or within 120 hours if the Disclosure is delivered by registered mail.

What if I fill out the Disclosure statement and I make a mistake or it is incorrect or inaccurate?

You are not liable for incorrect or inaccurate Disclosure statements if you had no knowledge of the inaccuracy, the information you provided was based on information provided to you by government agencies or home inspection professionals, and you were careful in communicating the information you received from any third parties. If you find out that the data in the Disclosure is inaccurate you must notify the Purchaser in writing of the inaccuracy as soon as you discover it.

What types of Disclosures do I need to make and there is a special form to use?

The Act has a proscribed form that is to be used to comply with the Act. The form has been amended and the old form may not be used after April 2006. The new form is attached in fillable PDF format.

Can a real estate agent or broker be liable for a violation of the Act?

A real estate agent or broker is not liable under the Act UNLESS the agent knowingly acts in concert with the seller to violate the Act.

Should I disclose all issues or problems with my property?

Honesty is the best policy. The Act requires that Disclosures be made in “good-faith” which means that they must be honest in fact. If you do not know the answer you may simply state “unknown.”