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Bloomfield Hills Legal Blog

The Michigan Supreme Court Can't Decide Whether It Is Proper For An Attorney To Write Himself Into His Client's Will

The Michigan Supreme Court on June 21, 2018 issued their much-anticipated opinion in the case of In re Mardigian Estate. In that case attorney Mark Papazian prepared a trust amendment and corresponding will for his client and friend Robert Mardigian. The new estate planning documents left the bulk of Mardigian's very substantial ($ millions) estate to Papazian and his children. Mardigian died six months later. Not surprisingly, Mardigian's family, comprised of his nieces and nephews, as he did not have any children, challenged the documents and accused Papazian of exerting undue influence in obtaining Mardigian's signature on the documents. The probate court summarily set the documents aside as contrary to public policy because Michigan Rule of Professional Responsibility 1.8(c) prohibits an attorney from preparing a document, such as a will or a trust, that gives the attorney or his family "any substantial gift." There is little doubt that the preparation of the will and trust was prepared in violation of this rule. 

Whistleblower Allowed to Proceed with Her Federal False Claims Qui Tam Case Against Home Health Agency

On June 11, 2018, The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States ex rel. Marjorie Prather v Brookdale Senior Living Communities, Inc., et al, issued a favorable ruling for Prather, the relator, in a claim brought pursuant to the Federal False Claims Act ("FCA") case. 

The Next Generation Of Business Owners

For some people, the dream to run their own business starts early. Others find their way to entrepreneurship after an unsatisfactory stint as an employee. Whatever drives them there, new business owners are often hopeful and enthusiastic about the prospects of their new ventures. 

Optimism is one of the leading traits associated with people identified as Millennials or members of Generation-Z. A recent study has identified these groups as showing a particular desire to start and run their own businesses. Social media has helped hone the brand awareness of this group, and they are eager to forge their own paths in running businesses that better align with their worldview.

The Michigan Supreme Court Leaves Appellate Decision Intact: Employee's Report to Her Attorney of a Good Faith Belief that Her Employer Violated Law is Protected Under Michigan's Whistleblower Act

On April 20, 2017, I wrote a blog about an oral argument at the Michigan Supreme Court that occurred on April 12, 2017, in the case of McNeil-Marks v MidMichigan Medical Center-Gratiot ("MidMichigan"). In MidMichigan, the Court of Appeals expanded the definition of a member of a "public body" under the Whistleblowers' Protection Action ("WPA"), to include Michigan licensed attorneys.

Following oral argument on April 12, 2017, the Michigan Supreme Court directed the parties to file supplemental briefs. 

Welcome Relief for Survivors of Sexual Abuse: The State of Michigan Extends the Statute of Limitations in Civil and Criminal Cases

During my decades of legal practice, I have had the great honor to represent many courageous people who survived heinous acts of sexual abuse at the hands of their clergy, teachers, coaches, physicians, relatives or, other trusted adults in their lives. Tragically, many victims of childhood sexual abuse were and are psychologically incapable of confronting the horrors of the abuse and years elapse before they seek legal help. In many instances, the statute of limitations barred these survivors from bringing civil claims. 

Trademark rights and consumer confusion

Trademarks are of vital importance when it comes to developing and maintaining a brand. Trademarks help consumers identify brands they can trust. It helps them pick and choose where to spend their time and money among a host of competitors. Trademark protection, therefore, is something businesses need to prioritize to protect and promote their efforts.

When it comes to asserting trademark infringement, there are several important elements that must be considered. A recent case generating headlines highlights a particular concern that must be present for trademark infringement to be found: a likelihood of confusion. If an alleged infringer's mark is not likely to create confusion among your consumers, you may not be able to demonstrate infringement.

What to Know About Tax Cuts & Jobs Act Changes for 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 ("TCJA") was enacted into law on December 22, 2017. The TCJA is regarded as the most sweeping tax reform legislation in more than three decades. Hertz Schram has put together the following brief summary of the TCJA's changes to help you prepare for 2018. This is by no means exhaustive, and should not be relied upon as tax advice.

The impact of the following changes will vary on the your income, size and composition of you restate. It's important to note that that business provisions of the TCJA are permanent, but estate tax provisionsare not permanent and sunset after 2025. All changes are effective now.

Below is a look at the impact in three parts: Individual Tax Reform, Estate, Gift and Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Reform, and Business Tax Reform. 

9 Hertz Schram Attorneys Honored as Leading Lawyers

Congrats to everyone at our firm who worked hard this past year to receive the honor of a Leading Lawyer awards for 2018. Leading Lawyers is a top honor to receive in our industry. An attorney must be recommended by their peers to be considered in their area of practice. Less than 5% of all lawyers in each state receive this distinguished award.

Over a Dozen Hertz Schram Attorneys Honored as Super Lawyers & Rising Stars

At Hertz Schram we believe in cultivating excellence. We're always honored when our team is recognized in the legal community. This year over a dozen of our attorneys received the honor of a Super Lawyers or Rising Stars.

Super Lawyers honors lawyers across 70 practice areas. Each lawyer is ranked by peers for professional achievement. A Rising Star honoree has been in practice for 10 years or less and is honored for their achievements. Only 2.5 percent of all attorneys receive this rising honor as an emerging leader in their field.

But I Never Received Notice!

A few years ago, I received a call from an elderly client (let's call him "Fred") in a panic. Fred told me that he went out to his lake cottage one spring for the first time since winter and found a notice of foreclosure pasted on the door indicating that the property had been foreclosed upon for non-payment of taxes. The appeal period had long expired. I asked Fred if he paid his taxes. He couldn't remember and said he thought he escrowed for taxes as part of his mortgage payment. Upon further inquiry I learned that he owned the property free and clear and that yes, he forgot to pay his property taxes. After some finagling I was able to make a deal with the County Treasurer to get Fred's property back so long as Fred paid all of the taxes, plus interest, within 48 hours. I did this by convincing the County Treasurer that Fred was elderly, had moved within the past few years and that the County had the wrong mailing address for purposes of notice. Fred was lucky. The County Treasurer accepted my story, although he didn't have to.

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