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Criminal Defense +

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Criminal Charge Dismissed? What Happens to the Arrest Record?

Many criminal cases are abandoned by the prosecution prior to trial. Charges are dismissed for many reasons – including exculpatory information provided through defense investigation, the suppression of necessary evidence due to constitutional violations, and recanting or uncooperative witnesses.  Prior to June 12, 2018, however, a dismissal of charges still left a lingering stain on a...

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Organizational Crimes of Opportunity

It’s all over but the sentencing….The Kwame Kilpatrick saga will soon reach its sad, yet gratifying end.   After systematically abusing the public trust while in office as mayor of Detroit, Mr. Kilpatrick will likely spend a good portion of the rest of his life in federal prison.  Politicians are often cursed by the same attributes that lead them to seek office in the ...

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Estate Planning +

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Achieve A Better Life Experience (“ABLE”) Act

Over the years, the primary estate planning tool for parents with a special needs child was an Amenities Trust. This trust allows parents to provide an inheritance to their child without impacting their child’s eligibility for certain government benefits.During the Obama administration, the federal government added another tool for parents with a special needs child called the Achieve A Bet...

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How to Score a Touchdown with a Financial Power of Attorney

To win football games, a team needs to score touchdowns, not just kick field goals, when it reaches the “red zone.” Kicking field goals, rather than scoring touchdowns between the 20-yard line and the end zone loses football games.In this blog, we discuss “How to Score a Touchdown with a Financial Power of Attorney” by avoiding probate court after you become incapacitated....

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Planning for Future Health Care Decisions

You have the ability to make your own medical decisions. You can accept, refuse, or stop medical treatment. If you lose the ability to make your own medical decisions, someone else will have to make those decisions for you. The good news is that you can choose the person you want to make those decisions. That person is called your “patient advocate” and you can give them information a...

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Casket V Cremation - Who Decides?

Family disagreements often occur concerning funeral arrangements and the disposition of their loved one’s body or cremated remains. Until recently, if there was no surviving spouse, the decision rested on the majority of decedent’s living children.Now, in Michigan, an individual can designate a funeral representative in a document separate from a will or power of attorney. The designa...

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A Husband and Wife Have a Living Trust. Should Their Home be Titled in the Trust Name or Their Names?

This is a question that’s frequently asked by our clients when discussing their estate plan options. The answer depends on the facts of each case but, in general, there are good reasons to hold title in the husband’s name and wife’s name, as husband and wife, rather than in their living trust name.Property that’s in the names of both a husband and wife is considered to be ...

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“How to Score a Touchdown With a Living Trust"

By Marty Bodnar – To win football games, a team needs to score touchdowns, not kick field goals, when it reaches the “red zone.” Kicking field goals, not scoring touchdowns, between the 20-yard line and the end zone loses football games.A living trust is used to avoid probate court. Avoiding probate saves money and time and allows an estate to be settled privately rather than th...

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Estate Planning for Special Needs Families

Wendy Alton was honored to speak with the Down Syndrome Support Team (DSST) in Saline this past Sunday about estate planning for special needs families. Many families have children that may require or presently require assistance outside of what the family can provide. This can be either while the child is still a minor, or when they become an adult. Unfortunately many of the programs require a &...

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Andrew M. Eggan Awarded Five Star Estate Planning Professional Award

Pear Sperling Eggan & Daniels is proud to announce that Andrew M. Eggan, a partner in the firm’s Ypsilanti office, has been awarded the 2014 Detroit Five Star Estate Planning Professional Award. Metro-Detroit publications Hour Magazine and DBusiness compiled the lists of attorneys based on 10 objective pieces of eligibility requirements and evaluation criteria. The prestigious Five Star...

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Family Law +

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Can I Disinherit My Spouse by Leaving the Spouse Out of My Will?

Our clients raise this question for various reasons. They could be inquiring because they are not getting along and don’t want their spouse to receive anything from their estate when they pass away. It could be that the parties have a pre-nuptial agreement or a financial plan in place that the client wants to make certain is not subject to change by the spouse after the client dies. It coul...

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Does Remarriage Automatically Terminate Spousal Support?

One of the most frequent questions our divorce clients ask is: “Does spousal support automatically ends if the person receiving support remarries?” The law states that unless you agree to other terms in your divorce judgment, a remarriage is considered a change in circumstances. The court may terminate spousal support if the person receiving support remarries. MCL 552.13. It&rsqu...

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The Wedding’s Off—Now Who Keeps the Engagement Ring?

By Wendy Alton You are engaged to be married, and have either bought or received a beautiful (expensive) engagement ring. Unfortunately, something happens to destroy the pre-wedding bliss and the wedding is called off for good. If the marriage never happens, who gets the engagement ring? The courts in Michigan have answered unequivocally: the person who gave the ring in anticipation of the marri...

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No Common Law Marriage in Michigan

By Wendy Alton Common law marriage is the term for a “marriage” that exists solely by agreement and by cohabitation. More simply, a common-law marriage exists when two people agree to live together to be “married.” Common-law marriage is one of the fundamental rights that has existed in this country since the first settlers. In 1838, Michigan passed a law that stated that “marriages m...

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Spousal Support (Alimony) is Based Upon More than Just a Difference in Income

By Wendy Alton A common misperception of people going through a divorce in Michigan is that spousal support (formerly called alimony) is based solely or mostly upon a difference in income between the spouses. While it is true that the court considers income when deciding if spousal support should be awarded—income is just 1 of 14 factors that the courts review. In deciding whether or not spous...

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Divorcing? Don’t Forget the Dog

We often think that custody battles involve just children. However, pets are often cherished members of the family, and how divorcing couples share time with their pets is often of primary focus and concern. It is not uncommon to hear the following: “My dog is my baby.”Despite the close loving relationship we have with our family pets, they are considered personal property in Michigan...

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How Child Support is Calculated in Michigan

By Wendy Alton It seems like one of the biggest mysteries with family law clients is how child support is actually calculated. It is a common misperception that child support is based just on the income of both parents. While income is a factor, it is not the only consideration when child support is calculated. In Michigan, the following is a standard list of items considered to calculate child ...

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Is Annulment an Option?

By Wendy Alton – In the state of Michigan, you can end your marriage by filing for one of three things: divorce, separate maintenance (legal separation), or annulment. An annulment is only granted if the marriage itself was void from the beginning or the marriage is voidable. A void marriage in Michigan is a marriage that could not have taken place legally from the beginning. What this means i...

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Legal Separation v. Divorce

One common question that is often asked is whether or not Michigan has what is called a “legal separation,” allowing a married couple to legally separate, but still remain married.The simple answer is yes, but the procedure is not so simple. Michigan has a legal action entitled “Separate Maintenance.” An action for “Separate Maintenance” is filed with the court...

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Making College Expenses a Priority after Divorce

By Wendy Alton – According to a recent study, divorced parents contribute a significant amount less toward college for their children than parents that remain married. The study was discussed in a Washington Post article, and revealed that divorced parents spend nearly 1/3 less on college expenses than married parents. Obviously this is a huge difference and disadvantage to children of divorc...

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Pre-Nuptial Agreements Provide Protection for More than just a Business

by Wendy Alton – Forbes previously published an article titled “Protecting Your Business In a Divorce: Pre-Nuptial Agreement.” It is an excellent article, but it is also a reminder that prenuptial agreements are useful for more than just protecting a business.Prenuptial agreements are agreements made between couples who are planning on getting married. The agreements will s...

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Should You Change Your Name After a Divorce?

By Wendy Alton – A small but important question is always asked of the wife during divorce proceedings: Do you want to keep your married name, or go back to your maiden name? If the attorney fails to ask the wife this question, the Judge may ask the question at the final hearing.Some women have a difficult time making this decision—especially if they have children from their...

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Labor & Employment +

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What You Can (Can’t) Do About a Harassing Boss!

One of the most common types of inquiries I receive is from people who claim they’re victims of workplace harassment instigated by a boss, supervisor or co-worker. Their most common question is if they can put an end to the harassment and recover money damages from the harasser.Unfortunately, the situations that afford a harassed employee a right to threaten or take legal action against a h...

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Litigation +

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The Importance of Pre-Suit Preparation - Revisions to Michigan’s Discovery Rules

Starting January 1, 2020, litigants in civil cases in Michigan’s state courts will face significant changes in how cases are handled. The Michigan Supreme Court recently adopted changes to the Rules of Civil Procedure that will completely overhaul the discovery process in Michigan to bring it closer to the procedures in federal court. If you’re not familiar with the Federal Rules of C...

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You Have (Probably) Not Been Defamed

One of the most common type of calls we receive comes from people who believe they’ve been defamed. Almost without exception we have to turn them away, informing them that, unfortunately, even if someone said something hurtful, it’s not defamatory. This may leave clients confused, wondering why that’s the case. Going back to the roots of the United States, the protections afford...

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What to Do If You Get Sued

By Jeremy Kennedy – Few things can raise your anxiety levels faster or farther than being sued. The uncertainty of what will happen, the cost of hiring a lawyer, the apprehension of what happens if you lose, and the general unfamiliarity most people have with the legal system can intimidate many people. Because of this intimidation, it is important to know what steps you need to take to protec...

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What to Consider Before Filing a Lawsuit

We have two separate court systems in Michigan, a state court system and a federal court system. For disputes involving amounts of $5,000 or less, you can sue in state small claims court, which is usually available in each city (at the local district court) and does not require an attorney. In fact, you cannot have an attorney in small claims court. If your dispute involves amounts over $5,000 bu...

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Proof of Motivation Is Now Unnecessary in Michigan Whistleblower Cases

Under the Michigan Whistleblower’s Protection Act (“WPA”), an employer is subject to civil liability and penalties for discharging, threatening or otherwise discriminating against an employee because the employee reports or is about to report, a violation or suspected violation of a law, regulation or rule to a public body, unless the employee knows that the report is false, or ...

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Insurance! It’s Not Just For Cars

When named as a defendant in a lawsuit, the natural instinct of most people is to panic or despair. Faced with the possibility of having a judgment entered against them and the equally daunting prospect of dealing with the legal system and having to pay for an attorney even if they win, most people understandably worry about what will happen to them, their family, and their overall well-being. Ev...

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Municipal +

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Possession Of A Gun On Municipal Property

The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that a local school district may adopt a policy that prohibits the possession of a firearm on school property. The outcome of the case was in doubt considering prior appellate court rulings that a municipality may not establish gun-free zones on municipal property. The basis for earlier rulings that address possession of a gun on public property is three-...

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Open Meetings Act – Can Emails Between a Quorum of a Public Body Violate the OMA?

By Tom Daniels – In a case of first impression, the Michigan Court of Appeals found that a series of e-mails exchanged between four members of a seven member township parks and recreation commission constituted a violation of the Open Meetings Act (“OMA”). Markel v. Mackley, 11/1/16, 2016 Mich App LEXIS 2004. The OMA requires that all meetings of a public body be open to the public. A meet...

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Nudes, Dudes, and Zoning Disputes

Anyone who has participated in a local zoning controversy—whether as a property owner desiring to alter the use of a parcel, a nearby property owner displeased with the proposed change, or a governmental agency (council, planning commission, zoning board of appeals) required to resolve the issue—knows full well that these matters can arouse strong emotions.   Indeed, a whole...

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Personal Injury +

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Open and Obvious Defense in Personal Injury Cases

Business owners owe a reasonable duty of care to protect customers from unreasonable risks of harm caused by hazardous conditions on a business premises. If the operator of a business fails to comply with this duty and a hazardous condition causes a customer to suffer an injury, that customer may have a personal injury claim against the premises owner. However, it can be very difficult to succeed...

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Real Estate +

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PSED Wins Major Property Law Dispute in Pittsfield Township

In May, PSED obtained a significant favorable ruling from Judge Kuhnke of the Washtenaw County Circuit Court on behalf of a real estate developer in a complicated dispute with a condominium association.  During the housing market crash in 2008, the prior developer was not able to complete all the phases of a condominium complex and 210 unconstructed condominium units went into tax foreclosur...

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Oil & Gas Leases in Michigan

Many oil and gas producers have their land surveyors out looking for properties to seismically survey in Michigan now that hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking,” has become a profitable way to extract natural gas and petroleum products from the ground.  Fracking is a process whereby hundreds of thousands of gallons, and sometimes millions of gallons, of water are in...

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Common Landlord-Tenant Disputes Part 1: The Security Deposit

As attorneys who frequently handle disputes arising out of residential leases, the following are the three topics we are asked about most frequently by landlords and tenants:Security deposit issues;Late fees;Repairs that the landlord must make.Each of these issues will be covered in two separate blog posts, starting with the security deposit.The Landlord and Tenant Relationships Act governs resid...

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Common Landlord-Tenant Disputes Part 2: Late Fees & Repairs

This blog post is the second of two parts that address the three of the topics that clients most frequently seek advice on in the residential landlord/tenant realm. Part 1 addressed what is commonly referred to as the Security Deposit Statute, and can be accessed here. This post will address the following: (1) late fees that a landlord can lawfully charge a residential tenant; and, (2) when a lan...

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Trademarks +

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Selecting and Registering a Trademark

Any business, whether emerging or established and looking to expand, should consider one or more trademarks to help consumers identify the source of certain goods or services.   Regardless of any formal registration, trademark rights are created through their use in commerce.  Therefore, it is possible for different entities to obtain trademark rights in the same trademark for diff...

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Social Media and Trademarks: Understanding Your Rights in a Digital Age

The popularity of various social media applications, such as Facebook and Twitter, has grown at a rate that far exceeds the ability of courts and the legislature to keep up with regulations and their interpretation.  A user on any one of these applications is able to post a comment, a picture, a link or logo within seconds of its creation, becoming a potential advertiser for their own compan...

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Soybeans and the U.S. Supreme Court

On Tuesday, February 19, 2013, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Bowman v. Monsanto, a very important case for U.S. patent law and just about every research and development institution in the country.The case centers on Monsanto’s patented soybeans that have been genetically modified to be resistant to glyphosate, an herbicide.  According to the statem...

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