Five Questions About End of Life Care | Engage With Grace

Filed under: Elder Law,Estate Planning,Health Care Directives,Living Will,Power of Attorney — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:34 pm

With the holidays upon us, we will be surround by family.  This is an opportune time to discuss with loved ones how you want your end of life care handled.

A great website ( encourages people to talk with their loved ones about the five questions of end of life care and encourages you to get your appropriate health care documents in place.  In Michigan, everyone needs at least a Patient Advocate Designation for health care decisions and possibly a living will.  A Michigan estate planning lawyer can help your prepare your health care directives.

There was an article about the site in the Boston Globe.

Here is an except:

When Rosaria Vandenberg lay unconscious in the hospital, a malignant brain tumor stealing her life, her brother decided to overrule doctors’ advice and bring her home to die. He believed, but wasn’t sure, that this was what she would have wanted. The truth is, when she was conscious, her family had never asked.

Back at home, Vandenberg’s 2-year-old daughter, who had been afraid to touch her mother in the hospital, snuggled next to her in bed. Rosaria opened her eyes, the first time in a week, and took in the sight. She died the next night at home.

-Christopher J. Berry, Esq.

Bookmark and Share

Comments (1)

Privacy Loss of a Will versus a Trust, Celebrity Style

November 26, 2008

Filed under: Estate Planning,Living Trust,Probate,Will — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:37 pm

Creating a living trust in Michigan, as stated in my previous post, has the added advantage of keeping family affairs private.  Using a will based estate plan in Michigan is a public process that must go through the probate court system.

Evel Knievel is the most recent celebrity to fail to use a trust, therefore his will became public record.  Trust and Estates Magazine recently had an article discussing his will (which never would have happened had he created a revocable living trust).

The reason they could write about his will is that it went through the probate system.  In his four page will he left most his estate to his newest ex-wife, cutting out his ex-wife to whom he was married for nearly 40 years.  Additionally, his son Robbie was also cut out in favor of the newest ex-wife.

However, she is not necessarily going to inherit a huge estate.  Just like the Michigan probate system, creditors, loans, and past judgments must be paid.  Evel’s estate looks to be on the hook for over $14 million in judgments and loans owed.

Continue reading “Privacy Loss of a Will versus a Trust, Celebrity Style” »

Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

Michigan Estate Recovery Law | Rejected by The Feds

November 25, 2008

Filed under: Elder Law,Estate Planning — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:38 pm

Michigan became the last state in the U.S. to pass an estate recovery law in an effort to recoup Medicaid expenses of nursing home patients in Michigan and to meet Federal requirements.  The Feds and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid have rejected the Michigan proposal.

Michigan is now in the process of appealing the decision according to the non-profit group Elder Law of Michigan.

What this means is that the Michigan Estate recovery, Medicaid planning, and Elder Law areas continue to remain in a state of flux.  Speaking with an elder law or estate planning attorney is critical to understand the current state of laws.

Continue reading “Michigan Estate Recovery Law | Rejected by The Feds” »

Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

Oakland County Probate | Loss of Privacy

November 24, 2008

Filed under: Estate Planning,Living Trust,Probate,Will — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:39 pm

Our clients ask us to develop Michigan estate plans that avoid the Oakland County probate system (Wayne and Macomb, as well) to keep their affairs private.  Typically, as estate planning lawyers we draft living trusts to avoid probate.

When your estate plan goes through the probate system, you lose all privacy.  As your will, and other matters go through the probate system, they become part of the public record.  Individuals have been known to submit false claims against Michigan probate estates and use the probate record to target heirs and beneficiaries.

Michigan Living Trusts on the other hand, if properly prepared by a Michigan estate planning lawyer, can be totally private.  Noon can find out your assets, or who will inherit what with a living trust.

Continue reading “Oakland County Probate | Loss of Privacy” »

Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

The Problem With Michigan Trust Kits

November 18, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:40 pm

Living trusts have been aggressivly marketed to the Michigan public. Unfortunatly, there are many non-lawyers out their marketing trust kits in Michigan or trust preperation services. Buying one of these “trust kits” can be a huge financial mistake that not only effects you but also your loved ones.

The targeted customers of these salesmen are typically seniors. They will lure the seniores in by either going door to door or holding free seminars. More often than not, these seminars will not be taught by an attorney, but by a salseman. They will advertised to the senior a one-size fits all estate plan, usually for over $2500. Quite often these “trust kits” end up being a fill in the blank type document and the customer never even meets with an attorney.

There have been reports of Michigan citizens losing over $200,000 to Federal Estate taxes based off these poorly drafted plans.

If you had a estate plan or “trust kit” drafted by one of these outfits, contact a Michigan estate planning lawyer, as soon as possible to rectify the matter and create an estate plan that serves your wishes and provides for your loved ones.

Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

Tuesday Topic | When To Update Your Estate Plan in Michigan

November 11, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:43 pm

Every Tuesday I have a meeting with other business people in the area and we each talk a few minutes about our practice. As a Michigan estate planning lawyer I talked about the need to review your estate plan. I was asked a question about how often to review your estate plan the night before as well.

What I told the group was that our firm believes in annual reviews of your estate plan. We care very much about our clients and the hard work that was put into thier estate plan, we do not want their plan to fail due to a lack of maintenance.

Setting up an estate plan is not a “one-and-done” propostion. Just like going to the dentist, an estate plan needs at least annual check ups. Occasionally like a dentist there will be major work, such as an amendment to the plan. But as a whole, only a few tune ups each year.

The reason for the need for check-ups is threefold.

  1. Your family situation may change. There may be a new child to plan for, a divorce, marriage, etc.
  2. Your assets may change. Have you added new bank accounts, bought a new house, new life insurance, etc?
  3. The laws change. There have been many changes to both Michigan and Federal law in the past 10 years alone that effect estate planning. With the new administration there is bound to be new Federal Estate tax laws as well.

So, have you updated your estate plan? If you have an estate plan with another attorney, have they cared enough to contact you?

Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

What to Ask Your Financial Planner in this Turbulent Market

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:42 pm

Wathcing the news today and they quoted a Kiplingers article that offered some questions to ask your financial planner during these turbulent times. Those questions were:

Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

Older Posts »

Witzke Berry & Carter PLLC
Blog Home Firm Website Practice Areas Contact Us

Elder Law Update | November is National Family Caregiver Month

November 29, 2008

Filed under: Elder Law,Estate Planning,Health Care Directives,Living Will,Power of Attorney — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:31 pm

As we come to the end of November, I wanted to mention that November is National Family Caregivers Month- where we honor the time, care, and energy people give to help members of the family.  A caregiver is a family member or friend who provides unpaid care for a love one and assistance in daily tasks.

Family conversations about personal wishes regarding dignity and autonomy can be very challenging.  Often times family members must look to the small things of a loved one to really find out their need.  For example are they having troubles walking?

Along with providing care, it is important your loved ones prepare the necessary documents reflecting their wishes, so that as they age or become incapacitated their wishes our followed.  It is important to have an estate planning attorney prepare powers of attorney for health care, powers of attorney for financial and business decisions, and a living will for your loved on so their wishes are respected.

Continue reading “Elder Law Update | November is National Family Caregiver Month” »

Holidays and Family Conversations

November 28, 2008

Filed under: Elder Law,Estate Planning,Health Care Directives,Power of Attorney — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:32 pm

As I was getting ready to head to the office and my wife was getting ready to head out shopping for Black Friday in Metro Detroit, we had the television on.  On Good Morning America (or one of the morning talk shows, they all seem the same to me) there was a representative from the AARP talking with the hosts regarding just what I wrote about in my last post about end of life decisions and how to have the conversation with your parents.

With the holidays upon up, this is the time to have important family conversations with your parents.  There needs to be a discussion about handling aging with privacy and dignity.
As the AARP rep mentioned, this is best accomplished through creating advanced health care directives, including a living will, and creating a power of attorney to handle financial and business decisions.

The AARP representative also mentioned, which I wholeheartedly agree with as an estate planning lawyer, that these documents need to be executed early before there are any health of financial issues.

-Christopher J. Berry, Esq.

Are Two Living Trusts Better Than One in Michigan?

November 27, 2008

Filed under: Estate Planning,Living Trust — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:36 pm

There has been recent discussion between Michigan estate planning lawyers on whether married couples should generally have a revocable living trust for each spouse, or one joint revocable living trust.

Unless there is a good reason to have separate trusts, such as for federal tax purposes or second marriages, we as Michigan estate planning lawyers, typically will execute a single joint living trust with our clients.  The reason for this is to make the funding process more easier.

Funding a trust is vitally important.  If there were two trusts to fund, then the married couple would have split their assets and try to equally fund each of the trusts.  On the other hand, with joint trust in Michigan, clients only need to fund all of their assets that they are putting into trust into the one joint revocable living trust that both clients share.

In summary, it is a much easier process with little downside if the factors are right.  Deciding if the factors are right takes the legal knowledge of an estate planning lawyer.


Contact us

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Our Newsletter

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Subscribe by email:
For Email Newsletters you can trust

Recent Posts



  • Michigan Elder Law Attorneys & Lawyers | Michigan Elder Law Center
  • Michigan Estate Planning Lawyers & Attorneys
  • Tulsa Estate Planning Blog