Real Estate Attorney David Michael on Panel of Industry Professionals Discussing Environmental Due Diligence

May 16, 2016 – David Michael, an attorney at Lipson Neilson P.C., and the current Chair of the Oakland County Bar Association’s Real Estate Committee, will be on a panel of real estate industry professionals discussing “Avoiding the Abyss: Environmental Due Diligence in Real Estate”. Presented by the Energy, Sustainability and Environmental and the Real Estate Law committees of the Oakland County Bar Association, with the support of the Michigan Commercial Board of Realtors. This seminar is officially certified by CE Marketplace, Michigan’s Continuing Education Hub for Real Estate Professionals, for two CE Credits and will be held on June 15, 2016, at the WMU-Cooley Law School located at 2630 Featherstone, Auburn Hills, Michigan 48326.


Topics discussed by the panel will include:

  • The legal liabilities/risks associated with the purchase/sale of brownfields or properties with other environmental issues such as wetlands or endangered species.
  • Assessing the environmental condition of real property through ASTM Phase I and Phase II environmental assessments, natural resource assessments, hazardous building material surveys and environmental insurance and Brownfield Incentives/Tax Abatements.
  • Drafting transactional documents to minimize environmental liabilities and spread risk.

About David Michael
David Michael specializes in all aspects of real estate law and litigation, and he has extensive experience in commercial litigation and continues to practice in that area as well. He is the Chair of the Oakland County Bar Association’s Real Estate Committee, and a contributing author to Development Magazine, a publication of the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

About Lipson Neilson P.C.
Founded in 1985, Lipson Neilson has offices in Bloomfield Hills, Las Vegas and Phoenix. The firm services clients in Michigan, across the U.S. and around the world. You can learn more about the firm by visiting


Contact: David Michael

Phone: 248-593-5000


Keep Track of Investment Accounts

According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, tens of millions of dollars sit each year in unclaimed IRAs. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that tens of thousands of workers fail to roll over or claim $850 million in 401k assets each year. Don’t let this happen to you, if your heirs don’t know about these assets, they can’t lay claim to them.

Carefully organize all account information as part of a thorough estate plan, making a list of pensions, 401ks, annuities, and IRAs for your loved ones. Be especially careful to include life insurance policies granted by an employer upon retirement, which are often missed by financial planners. Over a billion dollars in life insurance benefits have gone unclaimed in the USA since 2000.

To find out more about the firm visit

Steven Malach has been published on

IMG_1392Steven Malach’s article on the future of senior housing has been published on . This is the first of many articles to be posted to their website.

Open Retirement is dedicated to helping retirees make the best use of their public pension benefits and Social Security. The site also provides news regarding scams that target those depending on public pensions and social security.

Click here to see his article.

Understanding a Child’s Right to Special Education

by Mary T. Schmitt Smith, CELA, Special Needs Alliance

Pioneering efforts by staunch parent advocates led to enactment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This law guarantees students with I/DD a “free and appropriate education in the least restrictive environment possible.” But the language in the law and regulations is often vague, leaving details to be worked out by states and school districts.

With budget cuts and a growing, diverse population of children needing services, tensions can build between families and local schools. Parent advocacy is as important as ever, but there is a learning curve full of acronyms. The special education process is complex and varies significantly among states. This process can be intimidating, so it’s important to know your child’s rights.

Federal law requires that all school districts:

  • identify children entitled to receive special education services;
  • develop and implement an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each eligible student;
  • pay for necessary services to be delivered elsewhere if they cannot provide them.

Evaluation and IEP

Schools must pay to have an assessment of a child’s physical, social, psychological and behavioral development. Families can also provide any outside evaluations. Together, a determination is made whether the student is entitled to receive special ed services. If so, then an IEP team- including the parents- is developed. The IEP outlines written goals for the school year and how they’ll be measured and achieved. It addresses academics, physical education, and social and life skills. Consideration must be given to delivering services in a mainstream classroom (inclusive), and/or goals better met in a separate, more intensive environment. A student’s eligibility for special education must be assessed every three years. Special education students may receive services from the public school system until graduation or age 22 (26 in Michigan).

Family Rights

Parents are entitled to attend all IEP meetings and to receive a written copy of the IEP, which must be evaluated at least annually. Parents must be notified of all plans to evaluate a student or change an IEP, and they can call an IEP meeting at any time to address concerns about the plan.

If the parents disagree with the IEP, they are entitled to an impartial hearing. Since such proceedings can be daunting, they may find it helpful to work with a professional advocate such as a special needs attorney. If necessary, they can carry their grievance to the federal courts and. if successful, are entitled to reimbursement of attorney fees. Other advocacy resources for parents include chapters of The Arc, state protection and advocacy agencies, parent information and resource centers, and private educational consultants.

Transition Planning

By the time a student is 14, the IEP should address “transition planning,” needed in adulthood. Since the child’s personal goals should shape the curriculum, his/her involvement becomes increasingly important. Considerations include employment options, housing and independent living skills. Nutrition, travel skills, handling of money, appropriate behavior around strangers and much more should also be addressed, with the goal of becoming as independent as possible.

Upon the student’s 18th birthday, he/she is considered a legal adult, so parents need to determine whether a power of attorney or other legal authorization is needed to keep participating in the student’s education and other aspects of their lives such as health care and personal finances.

Community-based vocational initiatives should be investigated as early as possible during the transition process. Many localities coordinate hob fairs where special ed students can explore opportunities. Local chapters of The Arc can be a useful source for available employment supports.

While the special education system can be both confusing and frustrating, its goal is building the foundation for a self-directed, fulfilling life. Knowing how to effectively work with the school district can make all the difference.

SNA ( is partnering with The Arc to provide educational resources, build awareness,and advocate for policies benefiting people with I/DD. The author is the founder of the Theresa Law Center.

The Future of Senior Housing

 It’s hardly surprising that a recent American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) report found that 83 percent of those aged 55 to 64 want to remain in their own home as long as possible.

The American population is aging. By 2030, nearly one in five U.S. residents will be over 65. With the cost of homes, condominiums and apartments rising, the question becomes where do seniors live? Fortunately, there are viable options.

One in-vogue option is the creation of “In-law Suites.” This could include the installation of railings, soft flooring, medication reminders and various alert systems in an existing dwelling; or the space could be completely detached from the primary residence by its own bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

Another developing trend is Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC). Members can join for an annual fee, typically around $1,000. In turn they are provided a range of services and activities from discount health care services, handy men, computer technicians, and money managers, to grocery shopping and a host of other services. A volunteer on-call labor force is often available in these communities.

There is also Collaborative Housing or “Co-Housing,” which is a small clustered community of either attached units or single-family homes with common facilities and outdoor space. Not only is self-reliance reinforced, collaborative housing encourages interaction with neighbors and the building of social relationships.

Sorting Through Personal Effects

The death of a loved one is the most heart-wrenching and difficult time any person can endure.

There is no more emotionally draining and time-consuming task than sorting through a lifetime of belongings of a recently deceased family member or friend. Not only is the process painful, there is no way to make the perfect decision. No matter the choices, there will always be second-guessing, regrets and what-ifs.

Professional organizers may be helpful in settling upon some choices, and input from family members can lessen the strain. It is important to make the process of ultimately locating legal and monetary records, insurance papers and work-related documents a priority to be resolved as soon as possible.

Open and frank family communication is crucial during this time. An agenda which had already been set and agreed upon will also help facilitate the delicate process.

There is, of course, a sentimental and emotional aspect to this process which should be taken into consideration by family members. At the same time, the future cannot be forsaken. And it can be made less difficult by planning.

Courts Want to Eliminate Paper Filing

The springtime ritual of shuffling through papers to file a tax return may be reaching an end.

Many United States federal courts have already instituted e-filing, a system which includes the ability to access court records via the internet. E-filing could soon become commonplace in Michigan, as governor Rick Snyder signed legislation in December of 2013 that allows courts to do away with paper and begin processing files electronically. At present, individual courts may implement e-filing as they see fit.

E-filing is becoming increasingly popular with taxpayers. According to, 120 million taxpayers filed taxes electronically last year. Since 1990, taxpayers have filed more than one billion Form 1040 series tax returns.

The IRS reports that refunds are issued twice as fast for e-filed returns, 93 percent of which are issued in under 30 days.

Unfortunately, a lack of funding and uniformity will slow the local trend. But with further advancements in the digital age, e-filing will likely continue to change in the legal system.

Medicare and Social Security Beyond Death?

Glitches in the Medicare system cost taxpayers $23 million over a three-year period for services provided to deceased people, the General Services Administration says.

GSA auditors say from 2009 to 2011, Medicare spent $8.2 million on medical equipment prescribed by doctors who had been dead for at least a year. The audit said that since 2008, glitches led to more than $700 million being paid to the deceased.

With about 2.5 million Americans passing away each year, the system often fails to keep track of who receives benefits. In one notable case, a son kept receiving his dead father’s federal benefits for 26 years before he was discovered. In another, a man was arrested for submitting $2.1 million in false Medicare claims, including 10 claims for beneficiaries who had died.

The Office of Management and Budget says $47.9 billion in “improper payments” were made in 2010, though some were later seen as legitimate. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that total Medicare spending was $528 billion in 2010. There are several avenues for fraud, including including phantom billing, patient billing and uploading and unbundling schemes which inflate bills by using a billing code which shows patients need expensive procedures.

The problem isn’t just Medicare. As of May 2012, the Social Security Administration had paid $31 million to approximately 1,546 deceased beneficiaries.

The Affordable Care Act does provide rewards to pursue physicians guilty of making fraudulent claims, and the Healthcare Reform Law provides for stricter penalties. But with millions of dollars annually lost to false claims, a case can easily be made that the federal bureaucracy is failing to interface with other government agencies to stop the fraud in the system.

IRS Delays 2013 Tax-Filing Season

The IRS announced that the 2014 filing season is being pushed back due to the weeks- long government shut down that occurred in the fall.  Their annual system updating involves over 50 different type systems to accommodate the approximately 150 million tax returns that are expected to be filed…new paragraph….The original start date  has been pushed back to between January 28 and February 4th.