Crenshaw Peterson & Associates PC

Crenshaw Peterson & Associates PC

Estate Planning and Elder Law 

Blog Articles

Pet Trusts

Posted on September 28, 2018 at 4:50 PM
Check out what Abby has to say this month on the morning blend about her fur siblings.

Disabled children

Posted on September 28, 2018 at 4:45 PM
Tara Peterson, Elder Law Attorney, talks about how to best provide for the future of disabled children.
What can you do to protect your disabled child? #CPAlaw #estateplanning #elderlaw #disabilityplanning

Disinheriting a child

Posted on September 28, 2018 at 4:45 PM

Tara Peterson, Elder Law Attorney, Crenshaw Peterson & Assoc., talks about the process of removing a minor or child from inheritance.  Learn more about disinheriting a child, or alternative options to disinheriting. #cpalaw #estateplanning #elderlaw

Estate planning, money and children

Posted on September 28, 2018 at 4:45 PM

How should I plan for my kids future if I pass away? #cpalaw #estateplanning #planningwithkids

Tara Peterson, Crenshaw Peterson, talks about options on how to leave children money.


Estate Planning and children

Posted on September 28, 2018 at 4:45 PM

Tara Peterson, Elder Law Attorney, Crenshaw Peterson & Assoc., talks about what things you can do in an estate plan regarding children


Blended families

Posted on September 28, 2018 at 4:45 PM

Have you been married before? Find out the best ways to estate plan for your family situation. #cpalaw #estateplanning

Tara Peterson, Elder Law Attorney, Crenshaw Peterson & Associates, talks about issues that might come up with second marriage families and tells us what some of those issues are that we should be thinking about when we estate plan.


Estate Planning is vital now, not later

Posted on September 28, 2018 at 4:40 PM
see why you should be estate planning NOW and get a discount if you call now! 517-347-2100


Posted on August 4, 2016 at 2:20 PM


Our state has adopted a new law allowing people to designate a "Funeral Representative."

What is this Funeral Representative?

A Funeral Representative is a person who has the authority to make all arrangements for your funeral and burial after you die. This is different from previous years when the law stated that only a person's next of kin was in control of funeral and burial arrangements. The next of kin rule was less than ideal for several reasons.

  1. When no spouse was present, all children had to sign off to agree to the funeral arrangements. (How often does a group of people always agree on all aspects? Rarely!!)
  2. If the individual had a second or third spouse, or even short term marriage, the new spouse trumped the children and any of their wishes for their deceased parent.
  3. The deceased individual's wishes may not be followed if the next of kin decided to do something different.

Designating a Funeral Representative changes the above scenarios. You get to choose the Funeral Representative prior to your death, and that Funeral Representative exclusively has the power to make funeral decisions on your behalf. The only question remaining is whether they HAVE to follow your previously made arrangements. I would argue they do given that the power arises out of an advance directive appointing them to the position. If the power given is to be abided by, certainly so should the previously made decisions of the deceased.

The Michigan Funeral Director's Association says otherwise. They state that the law is not an advanced directive such as other states have developed but that it is meant to protect the deceased individual's right to choose who should be in charge of funeral decisions. The Michigan Courts will be the ultimate deciding factor, but it does point in the right direction. And, it makes clear the importance of choosing the right person for such a job. A person who will abide by your wishes as the deceased.

The alternative to not listing a represented leaves too much open to fighting amongst those you leave behind. And where death is concerned, we, as humans, are incredibly emotional and far less rational than we ought to be in those tense situations of loss. A Funeral Representative uncomplicates the entire process and will save a far greater headache down the road for your heirs.

We have placed this language in both the Power of Attorney documents we draft as well as the Last Will and Testament documents we draft.

If you haven't had your estate plan updated recently, nominating a Funeral Representative may be a good reason to come in and get it updated!



Posted on March 13, 2016 at 6:35 PM


I’m often asked when it is necessary to talk to an attorney if you’re making future decisions involving your assets?

Senior adults are often prey to scams at a time when they are facing health and financial insecurity. Add to that the long term and short term ramifications to decisions that families just may not be aware of, and I think it’s always a good idea to contact us at Crenshaw Peterson as your elder law attorneys and just check in. Sometimes families are able to resolve or help with decisions regarding health and finances but it is always a good idea to seek the advice of an elder law attorney to confirm the right path is being taken and bring some peace of mind to the senior adult as well as their family. Unintended consequences are often the biggest culprits to future planning.

The following decisions should be made in consultation with Crenshaw Peterson as elder law attorneys because they can later impact a senior adult’s potential for Medicaid or Veterans benefits. We can help to develop safe solutions to achieve your goals, without losing the potential benefits.


1. Giving money or property away as a gift

2. Adding children’s names to accounts or to real property

3. Selling certain types of assets

4. Buying financial products that can cause problems as you age

5. Any transfers of property by deeds

6. If one spouse needs additional in-home care assistance or is being moved into a nursing home

7. Paying a family member to care for you

8. Selling real property or a business in order to have the money to pay for assisted living or nursing home care

9. If one spouse becomes the caretaker for the other due to declining mental capacities

10. Choosing who will assist if there are no reliable families members close to assist with health care or provide financial assistance.


Just like the saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’, it also takes a team with a combined set of knowledge to build a plan for your future as a senior adult. Your team may include family, your elder law attorney, a doctor, financial advisors, and even a caretaker involved. Working together allows us to develop a plan that meets all the needs of the senior from A to Z and offers the assurances that the senior adult’s needs will be met fully and that everything done is in their best interests and for their safety. The first step to achieving this plan is, of course, to have a good estate plan in place. But that estate plan may need to be updated or tweaked as time goes on and as our lives and situations change. So before you make any of the above decisions, or start planning as life changes and throws you a curveball, be sure to contact us and allow Crenshaw Peterson, as your elder attorneys, to help you plan for the next steps.


The Challenge of Talking about Aging

Posted on January 25, 2016 at 6:55 PM

As our parents and grandparents age, it becomes necessary to have honest dialogue about the change in needs they may be facing. But these conversations are often difficult. Adult children and the aging parents know the importance of the conversation, but they can be awkward, challenging and emotionally charged and so many simply avoid them. Coming up with a plan that everyone is comfortable with and that makes sense for everyone is a good idea. Avoiding them is not the answer, so here are a few tips to tackling those difficult topics with care and consideration.

1. Talk before it’s time. The sooner families have those conversations, the better they are long term. So start talking, soon and often. It may be twenty, ten or five years off before any serious involvement is necessary, but the sooner you talk about the what if’s, the more comfortable you will be discussing it when it is time and the more receptive the aging parent will be knowing they have you in their corner and that you understand all of their wishes.

2. Make sure you know your options. It’s hard to have adequate conversations when you don’t know all the options. Talk to your Elder Law Attorney to make sure that you are up to date on all the law changes, current practices, available aid, opportunities, and time changes, as well as costs. Life continues to evolve around us, we need to evolve our planning to match. We recommend meeting with your attorney, even if just for a brief update conversation, at least once every five years. This will aid in your discussions with family, as you’ll be better equipped with the information you need to make the best decisions.

3. Don’t be shy about talking. Because these are difficult conversations to have, everyone must be upfront and honest with each other. But remain polite and respectful in your honesty! Aging adults must be honest about the help they need, and adult children need to recognize the limitations they have to potentially assist or see to the problem issue. Tackle the big issues clearly, don’t tip toe around them or you aren’t really talking.

4. Be patient. Aging parents are looking at a reduction in independence and abilities. This is an emotional, confusing and stressful time. Recognize that before you start the conversation so that you are more patient as they express their concerns. They may seem trivial to you, “of course I’ll do that mom,” but those responses aren’t what your aging parent wants to hear. They want reassurance, even if it seems like a silly request or a silly fear they have. Help them to age gracefully and safely.

5. Talk a lot. I can’t tell you how many times I hear when the family is sitting in my office “but mom, we talked about that a few years ago remember?” Once a few years ago is NOT enough. It is tempting to rush through these awkward difficult conversations on touchy issues, and then not talk about them again because now you have, but that isn’t actually helping the situation. Have several conversations and over a lengthy period of time. Bring them up again later to make sure everyone still feels the same way. A great example of a simpler topic shift is with life support. Often if you ask the 60 year old how much they want, you’ll get an answer that is relatively the same, “I want to be resuscitated if the doctors think I’ll survive but I don’t want to be a vegetable.” If you ask an 85/90 year old that question, the answer shifts dramatically to an adamant, “Don’t you dare resuscitate me.” Without these conversations, you won’t realize that the aging parents view on something has changed. Planning processes evolve as life does so talk about these issues often and keep on talking about them. It will reduce so much stress down the road, and often relieve the tension of overwhelmed parents and children.

6. Think outside the box. After exploring your options and doing all your research to know all that is available for your particular set of circumstances, it’s time to evaluate your plan to ensure that you or your aging parent is aging gracefully and safely. Explore ALL your options and see what fits best. It doesn’t have to be what everyone else is doing. Do what fits you. Don’t assume that you know the answer until you’ve looked at it. Make a pros and cons list. Thinking outside the box allows you to combine options, and be open to alternatives that you hadn’t thought of previously.

7. Talk with a neutral person in the room. Sometimes the conversations are just too charged, especially thecloser we get to needing some additional care. Too many emotions are charged and being flung around the room. So call us. Let us sit down with everyone, phone consult far away family members in, and discuss the situation and the options neutrally. Aging parents especially like this option. They feel they aren’t pressured by family to make one decision over another. We lead them to what is best for them, and they know that they are our first priority, not the adult children. The adult child might have been saying the same thing for months, but hearing it from someone outside the family often helps. Take advantage of that service!

While tough, these conversations will help the aging adult and the child navigate the next few years as life changes and shifts (or has already started to). We like to see our clients' families working easily and peacefully together to the end.  We would be happy to assist you as you navigate these rough waters, and direct you to resources available to you and any planning that may be necessary to ensure your long-term plan continues to work the way you intend it to.