Taproot Law, PLLC


Your questions, Erica's Answers

Taproot is a different kind of law firm, and we appreciate your questions which have helped us develop! Have a question you think Erica should answer for everyone else? Shoot her an email at hello@taprootadvocates.com.

What kind of law do you practice?

You can call me a general practitioner in estate planning at this phase in my career. I want to provide the legal education and services that most people need. I have a background in estate planning and litigation (real estate and probate). 

How long have you been a lawyer? 

I graduated from Cooley Law School in Lansing in 2010. I passed the February 2011 bar exam. I was hired at my first job in Marquette, MI, in July 2011. 

What were you doing before Taproot? 

For 10 years, I worked in one law firm! In this most traditional, private practice, I started estate planning. Bored by the process, I turned my attention over to litigation. I started fight about wills and trusts in court instead of drafting them. The other half of my practice consisted of real estate litigation over boundary lines and easements. 

Are you an estate planning attorney or an elder law attorney? 

Good question! My primary goal is to determine the services that a majority of Yoopers are seeking and meet that need. Yoopers still need a lot of estate planning services, and that need seems to be on the rise. So yes, I’m an attorney who does estate planning. A majority of people do not need what I define as “elder law” now. I screen and discuss elder law, and I refer people to the elder law practitioners in my network for help.

Wondering how could this be when estate planning attorneys are everywhere? Many of them have been pushed into specialities like helping people apply for Medicaid or doing complicated tax planning with trusts because the demand is there. While they do estate planning, the specialty may be why we need so many of these professionals. Elder Law is one of these specialties. 

Elder Law is the practice of helping people apply and qualify for a government service or entitlement. Most frequently, people need help applying for Medicaid especially for nursing-home care. Because this is a specialty, if you need this service immediately, I’ll connect you with one of the attorneys in my network focuses in Elder Law. 

Can I use you for estate planning now and see an elder law attorney if I ever need one? 

Yes! Don’t wait on estate planning because you never know what can happen between now and then. If you need one, we will connect you with someone in our network. Some people can get their will, healthcare power of attorney, and durable financial power of attorney while waiting in line to see a specialist for elder law. 

Do you still do real estate work? 

Yes! I do 1-on-1 coaching with people to help them understand a potential dispute or engage in settlement discussions with someone else. I can prepare documents needed to manage real estate including deeds, easements, and land contracts. Just shoot us a message to see what we can do to help! 

How do you meet with people? 

I meet with people through (1) workshops and (2) 1-on-1 legal coaching sessions. The purpose of both these meetings: EDUCATION! I offer a variety of ways to meet with me to fit a variety of lifestyle and needs. 

We do not have a brick and mortor office! This allows us to be a remote and mobile law firm to meet the needs in the rural spaces of the Upper Peninsula. 

My home is in Marquette. My mom, Dawn, is our scheduler, and she lives in Marquette. Syd, also from Marquette, helps us with our books and other important details.

What kind of workshops do you have? 

I’ll have these popping up all over the UP as a way to have a more intimate discussion (and I LOVE teaching this way!). 

Our traditional workshops have 15 people to “open to the public”. These are 1 hour of content. Small-group workshops are limited to 6-8 people. I have a half-hour of content. (This is such a good opportunity as far as value and education because you get more free 1-on-1 time with me. 

What kind of sessions do you have? 

I do coaching sessions in person once a week in Marquette and in various rural locations throughout the UP. Most people gather broad information through a workshop and then work then schedule a private coaching session with me to figure out the details of their plan. 

How do you charge people?

Flat fees! I only use flat fees because they are more transparent and give you the option of planning for this financial investment. All fees are due before a service is provided. 

What is limited scope representation? 

Traditionally, private practitioners were full-service legal providers. Full-service means that the lawyer or firm managed everything from legal strategy to document drafting to then pushing that paper. The client took a more passive role than in LSR. 

The client does a part of the project that a full-service law firm would have otherwise managed and not other parts. For Taproot, LSR means that I only do the following: 

Educate and help create strategies through workshops and advice given during 1-on-1 legal coaching sessions with Erica. 

Prepare legal documents and provide detailed instruction on how to complete documents and manage them when you’re on your own. 

I no longer represent people in court or in negotiations with others. I routinely coach people through negotitions with others during 1-on-1 sessions, especially real estate disputes.

What do you mean by a human-centered law firm?

Human-centered means that we assume that each person in a relationship to accomplish a project are entitled to dignity – including the legal team. In contrast, most lawyers were taught to be client-centered that can result in overpromising, under performing, and burnout. 

We are working to set better boundaries and expectations so that an experience with a legal project isn’t as unpleasant or harmful. We also believe there is enough work for everyone and some people are a better fit than others. 

Disclaimer: While Taproot Law has vetted these resources, that makes no guarantees as to the total accuracy or how it may be interpreted by an authority. 

The Time is Now

Many people are reluctant or scared to ask their neighbors for help. What surprises them is that most neighbors are happy to help complete these projects, especially with old, family friends! Waiting until a problem arises is tempting, but we give up so much control by giving in. The relationship with your neighbor could change. Or your neighbor could change entirely. Have the difficult conversation and take the first step to accomplishing your goal of resolving the access project now so your kids don’t have to do it later. Check out our Taproot: Make-It-Legal Services when you’re ready to put it in writing.

Unfortunately, no.

Your aunt’s power of attorney cannot sign the bonds after she dies because they terminate at death. I always visualize the power of attorney document vanishing in a puff of smoke as soon as the grantor of the power of attorney dies. After death, the bonds can later be cashed through the probate process (because she died owning the bonds alone). This is hard work, espeially when we help people who choose to manage their money differently than we would. Sometimes problems arise when the helper confuses a bad financial decision with the inability to make financial decisions (i.e., incapacity). It can be a bit stressful and emotional making it more of a trap. You didn’t fall in that trap. I appreciate the respect and dignity you show her in figuring out ways to accomplish both your goals. Thank you!