Encore Magazine August 2021

Page 29

ENCORE BACK STORY Isaac Hoelle (continued from page 30) What sparked your interest in beekeeping? I took a bug class a long time ago in a summer enrichment program with Portage Public Schools. We studied insects and pollinators. The Kalamazoo Bee Club came and talked to the class about bees. That’s what got me interested. The club offered to take us to an apiary, and I went. We had to have our parents’ permission. We were given a bee suit to wear. What is it like to wear a bee suit? The first time I put one on (at the apiary) it felt weird because it was hot out. I got used to it, though. I feel more confident wearing a (bee) suit. There’s a thing I learned about bee suits I would like people to know — why they are white. Bee suits are white so the bees don’t think you are a bear. Wait, what? Bees evolved to feel threatened by darker colors like brown or black, like bears, which are known for snatching honeycombs and honey from hives. Also, it’s usually hot out when working with the hives, and white reflects sunlight, so we stay cooler. Have you ever been stung?

from the hive. This is normal behavior. If the bees are active, we know there is a live queen inside the hive. In spring we make sure eggs are being laid inside the comb cells. We also check for parasitic varroa mites, which are a common cause of hive death. What do the bees do in winter? They act like us — stay inside and keep warm. The queen is in the middle, and they form a ball around her to keep her warm. They eat honey for energy and to live. When we take honey from a hive in late summer, we need to leave enough for the bees to make it through the winter. What else would you like people to know about bees? I would like to tell people what is good for bees and what is bad for them. Flowers like dandelions are actually good. They are the first flowers to appear in spring. We just planted an American linden tree in our backyard. They are very good for bees. In the summer finding water can be hard for bees. People can put a shallow bowl out in their yard with some rocks in it. Bees can’t swim so they need a place to land and drink from. It is not good for bees when people spray their yard for insects. Bees are insects.

No. I’m kind of surprised about that. People do get stung. But a lot depends on how you treat the bees. You can puff the hive with a smoker, which calms them, but if you are calm and gentle, even without using a smoker, they are less likely to sting you.

Has becoming a beekeeper changed you in any way?

What are some activities you regularly do as a beekeeper?

What things do you like to do when you aren’t tending to your bees?

In winter we make sure the bees have enough food. Honey can be supplemented with sugar if needed. We make sure there is no moisture in the hive, because moisture can be deadly for bees. We inspect to make sure the bees have been removing the dead bees

I feel like I have changed by having bees because I feel the need to take care of them and take my time with them.

I play the tuba and guitar. I also like to work with my mom in our flower and vegetable gardens and with our apple trees. — Interview by Donna McClurkan, edited for length and clarity

Ask ASK MICHAEL J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS LAW

Please send your questions to:

Q.

LAWYER

THE BUSINESS AND ESTATE PLANNING

LAWYER

ASK

THE BUSINESS AND ESTATE PLANNING

I LAWYER understandTHEa BUSINESS AND ESTATE spousal access trust may PLANNING Q. help me inLAWYER getting ahead Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A. of President Biden’s Willis Law A. “Green Book” proposQ. 491 West South Street Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A. als related to capital Kalamazoo, MI 49007 A.gains tax and also the 269.492.1040 decreasing lifetime www.willis.law estate exemption. How might it work? Please send your questions to:

Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A. Willis Law 491 West South Street Kalamazoo, MI 49007 269.492.1040 www.willis.law

Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A.

Q.

My husband is going into a nursing home. I’ve been told it is possible for me to create a trust and protect my assets from the spend down at the nursing home. Is that true?

A.

THE BUSINESS AND ESTATE PLANNING

ASK

Yes. Most often when folks talk on trust planning, they are referencing a revocable trust. In fact, that is the case probably more MICHAEL J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS LAW than 99% of the time. A revocable trust under Michigan law generally is set up only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there Please send your questions to: husband going into a nursing home.that I’ve told it is is anMy irrevocable trustisfor persons in your circumstances can been be established withtoyour assetsatotrust the extent they exceed protected possible for me create and protect my the assets from the spend Willis Law amount (which under Michigan law will cap at a little over $125,000). down at the nursing home. Is that true? 491 West South Street If the trust is irrevocable and the assets are effectively established in an Kalamazoo, MI 49007 MICHAEL J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS annuity LAW income stream back to you per the terms of the trust, then in 269.492.1040 such Yes. a circumstance the trustwhen will no folks longer talk be considered Most often on trusta countable planning, they are www.willis.law asset, but instead an income stream and thereby exempt for Medicaid Please send your questions to: referencing a My revocable trust. Ingoing fact, that case probably more intois atheand nursing purposes. This is husband a sophisticatedis planning technique, I highly home. I’ve been told it is thanencourage 99% of you the time. counsel A revocable trust underthisMichigan law generally before implementing or possible toforseekme to create a trust andtechnique protect my assets from the spend anyup other Medicaid planning. is set only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there Willis Law

A. Under current law, an individual with appreciated capital assets may give those assets away, up to a value of $11.7 million, and pay no capital gains tax or any estate or gift tax. The lifetime

exemption for estate and gift tax will drop to circa $6M in 2026, but will drop as low as $3.5M if the bill becomes law. Many wealthy Americans are now working on making major gifts to “get ahead” of the decreasing lifetime estate and gift tax exemption. More pressing, however, might be the capital gains tax proposals in the “Green Book” which would deem a gift of capital assets after January 1, 2022, with gains which exceed $1M, as a deemed sale and require income tax payments on rates as high as the individual income tax rate (circa 40%). This may mean the window to make a major gift for closes on December 31, 2021. Enter the spousal access trust or SLAT. By using a SLAT, one married person makes a gift to his or her spouse, in trust, for the lifetime benefit of the spouse. Typically, after the spouse passes, the remaining assets will be delivered to the couples’ children. The advantage is the ability to use, fully, the highest lifetime exemption in U.S. history before it is gone and before the capital gains laws change. The further advantage is the continued use of the gifted assets by one’s spouse. Given the gift is irrevocable, it should be made deliberately and intentionally. The time to plan may be now.

Michael J. Willis is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneys and Counselors at Law, is licensed to practice law in Florida and Michigan, and is registered as a certified public accountant in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, which has been rating lawyers for over a century, signifies that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity. He is listed in the Best Lawyers in America.

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