Avoiding The Scary Side of Healthcare and Advanced Medical Directives

September 9, 2009

Filed under: Estate Planning,Health Care Directives,Holistic Estate Planning,Living Will — Christopher J. Berry @ 11:54 pm

bloomfieldhillsestateplanpumpkin.gifLet’s face it, going to the hospital can be a little frightening.  But there are ways to prepare yourself and your loved ones.  A little bit of preparation can make the experience better for everyone: you, your family, and the hospital staff.

  1. Make sure that your healthcare power of attorney is up-to-date.  This document names the person (or persons) you would like to make medical decisions for you if you can’t do so.  Review this document periodically to make sure your choice(s) is still valid.
  2. Review your Living Will.  This document states your desires regarding treatments you would (or would not) want to receive in the hospital if you cannot make these decisions yourself.  Your living will is an important resource for your healthcare power of attorney should he/she need to make decisions about your care.
  3. Make your decision about organ donation and document it.  If you would like to donate your organs at the time of your passing, make that decision now and put it in writing.  One organ donor can save up to 8 lives and the need far exceeds the supply.
  4. Talk to your loved ones about your healthcare choices:  who you’ve named as your healthcare power of attorney, what your medical wishes are, and whether you want to be an organ donor.  The more they know in advance, the easier it will be for them if they ever have to step in.
  5. Carry your DocuBank wallet card.  Our firm provides this card because we know that immediate access to your emergency information and healthcare directives is important.  Make sure that your card is next to your driver’s license in your wallet at all times.
  6. Update the emergency information you store with DocuBank.  This includes your allergies and medical conditions that display on your Emergency Card and can help with your emergency treatment.  Also update your doctor’s and emergency contacts’ names and phone numbers.

Christopher J. Berry, Esq., An Oakland Estate Planning Attorney, is a Partner with The Law Offices of Witzke Berry PLLC, which practices in the areas of Michigan Wills and Michigan Trusts, Living Wills, and Michigan Probate Litigation, serving Oakland County, Macomb County, and Wayne County.  We can be reached at 248-971-1700.

Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

Planning Your Advanced Medical Directive and Living Will Should Not Be Put Off

August 20, 2009

Filed under: Estate Planning,Health Care Directives,Living Will — Christopher J. Berry @ 12:27 am

With the Health Care Reform discussion, a key estate planning step is in the spotlight, that is Living Wills and Advanced Medical Directives. The WSJ.com has a piece on how important Advanced Medical Directives are, especially for people who juggle work and family.  You can read the article here: Make Time to Create an Advanced Medical Directive.

The author of the article says that she “…implores readers to create an advanced medical directive, which details the kind of care you’d want if you are unable to voice your wishes.”

I couldn’t agree more.

In Michigan, your Advanced Medical Directives actually involves a few different documents.  First, you need to have your Patient Advocate Designation.  This form outlines who will be appointed and how they will make medical decisions if you become incapacitated.  In Michigan, the Patient Advocate Designation also includes Living Will type language where you can make decisions with regard to remaining on life support.

Additionally, you will want to include a HIPAA Authorization form that allows the people you have appointed in your Michigan Patient Advocate Designation to access your medical records.

These Advanced Medical Directives are just one aspect of a comprehensive estate plan and should be prepared by an experienced Michigan estate planning attorney.

Christopher J. Berry, Esq., An Oakland County Probate and Estate Administration Lawyer, is a Partner with The Law Office of Witzke Berry PLLC, which practices in the areas of Estate Planning, Michigan Medicaid Planning, and Michigan Probate Litigation.

Sign up for our Michigan Estate Planning Newsletter

Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

The Estate Planning Essentials According to Business Week

July 8, 2009

Filed under: Estate Planning,Health Care Directives,Living Trust,Living Will,Power of Attorney,Will — Christopher J. Berry @ 7:06 pm

Ever wonder what the absolute essential Michigan Estate Planning documents are? Well, Business Week put together a list, from caregiving.com listing the essential documents for any estate plan not including a Will. You can read the article here: The Essentials.

The key estate planning documents, according to the article, are:

  • Medical Directive. This is also commonly called a living will.  This document makes known your wishes regarding life support.  Michigan is the only state that does not recognize by statute a living will.  However, we do have case law stemming from the Martin case, that recognizes living will type language.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. This document appoints someone to make your medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated.  In Michigan, we call this document the Patient Advocate Designation.
  • Privacy Release.  This document allows your patient advocate to get access to your medical directives.  In our office we call this a HIPAA Authorization.  HIPAA places severe penalties on physicians who release your medical information to an unauthorized party.  The HIPAA Authorization releases the physician from liability for sharing your information with the individiuals named in the document.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Finances.  The individually tailored durable power of attorney appoints someone to manage your finances for you.  The document can be effective immedialty or upon disability.
  • Revocable Living Trust. A Revocable living trust allows you to avoid probate while exerting more control over your assets than what a last will and testament would provide.

It goes without saying, these documents should be prepared by a Michigan Estate Planning Attorney.

Christopher J. Berry, Esq., A Bloomfield Hills Elder Law Attorney, is a Partner with Witzke Berry PLLC, which practices in the areas of Estate Planning, Michgian Long-term Care Planning, and Michigan Medicaid Planning.

Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

Michigan Estate Planning | What You Need to Know

June 3, 2009

Filed under: Estate Planning,Health Care Directives,Living Trust,Power of Attorney,Retirement Accounts,Will — Christopher J. Berry @ 8:46 pm

Michigan Estate planning often does not get the attention it deserves.  It is more exciting to talk about saving for your kids education, purchasing a second home, or deciding how to retire.  Unfortunately, ignoring what happens to your affairs when you pass away will not prevent the day from happening, regardless of the size of your estate.

The New York times had an interesting article on the matter, which you can read here.

Two important issues include:

On top of these documents, other things to think about in estate planning are Trusts, Financial Powers of Attorney, and HIPAA Authorizations.  Also, don’t forget to look at how all of your assets are titled.

There is quite a bit that goes into preparing a comprehensive Michigan estate plan.  The sooner you start the process the better of you and your loved ones will be if something were to happen.

-Christopher J. Berry, Esq.
Bloomfield Hills Trust and Estate Planning Laywer

Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

Michigan Estate Planning Basics

May 20, 2009

Filed under: Elder Law,Estate Administration,Estate Planning,Health Care Directives,Holistic Estate Planning,Life Insurance,Living Trust,Living Will,Planning for Parents with Minor Children,Planning for Pets with Pet Trusts,Power of Attorney,Probate,Retirement Accounts,Will — Christopher J. Berry @ 8:56 pm

michigan-estate-lawyer.jpgIf have you ever dealt with a parent’s or loved one’s estate,  financial affairs or Michigan probate, you most likely know what a pain it is to administer their estate, clean up their affairs, and locate important documents and records.  I wanted to provide you some straightforward easily digestible advice on how make sure you don’t leave your loved ones in a lurch.

First and foremost, you must get organized.  You should begin creating a list of all your assets, liabilities, accounts, passwords.  Compile all of your records in one place and make sure they are safe and that your proposed personal representative, trustee, or whoever will handle you affairs when you pass, knows where to locate your documents.

The next step is to identify what your goals are with regard to when you become incapacitated or pass away.  Do you want to protect your assets in case you go into a Michigan nursing home?  Do you want to protect your children from poor financial choices with your inheritance?  Do you want to avoid the hassle, stress, cost of Michigan probate? Do you want to provide for your pets to be taken care of and not euthanized?  There are many difficult decisions to take into account.  We can provide you a list of some of the items to think about with regard to Michigan estate planning.  Just contact us using the contact form on this page.

Third, you need to select your team of advisors including your Michigan estate planning lawyer or Michigan elder law attorney.  Your attorney will assist you, along with your accountant and financial professional in matching the legal environment to your goals to create an individualized Michigan estate plan to meet your goals.  Through meeting with your Michigan estate planning professionals, you will have a Michigan estate plan that may include  living trusts, wills, general durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, HIPAA authorizations and living wills.  Though Michigan statute does not recognize a living will.

Next, there should be a review of how your assets are titled.  For example, who is the beneficiary of your life insurance?  Should it be titled into the trusts or should the life insurance go outright to beneficiaries?  What about the IRA’s and 401k’s?  These are all questions and items that will be reviewed with your Michigan estate planning attorney and the rest of your estate planning team.

Next, it is important to speak with all of your family members about what decisions you made and how your Michigan estate plan will be implemented and how it will take effect.  If our clients are interested, we have a “family meeting” where we have our clients bring in any family members or children to answer any questions in a round table format so that all of the loved ones and beneficiaries are on the same page.

Last, you need to review your estate plan annually once completed.  There can be changes in your family situation, changes in Michigan or Federal law, or changes in the tax laws.  Any changes could have drastic effects on your estate plan.  We bring our clients in every year as a part of our Foundations program to ensure that their estate plan is just effective the day they signed there documents as it is the day the the documents take effect.

The key to Michigan estate planning is taking action.  You can’t wait until the day you need an estate plan to start thinking about estate planning.

-Christopher J. Berry, Esq.
Michigan Estate Planning Attorney

Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

National Healthcare Decisions Day | April 16th, 2009

April 3, 2009

Filed under: Estate Planning,Health Care Directives,Living Will — Christopher J. Berry @ 1:18 am

National Healthcare Decisions Day is right around the corner.  It is a day to take the opportunity to talk to your loved ones about their health care decisions and advanced directives.  Do they have a Michigan Patient Advocated Designation?  Do they have a HIPAA Authorization for their Patient Advocate?

Please visit the National Health Care Decisions Day website.

Here is a snippet from the press release:

“A grassroots effort to promote advance care planning and healthcare decision making has exceeded all expectations with more than 450 participating organizations in all 50 states. The first National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), which was conceived less than a year ago and implemented with no budget or full-time staff, has generated tremendous PR and attention.”

“National Healthcare Decisions Day is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare through conversations and the completion of advance directives. NHDD is also working with providers and facilities to ensure that individual wishes are respected, whatever they may be.”

-Christopher J. Berry, Esq.
Michigan Estate Planning Lawyer
Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

Estate Planning Gone Wrong | Part 3

January 1, 2009

Filed under: Elder Law,Estate Planning,Health Care Directives,Living Trust,Living Will,Long Term Care,Power of Attorney,Will — Christopher J. Berry @ 7:08 pm

In Estate Planning Gone Wrong Part 1, I discussed the mistake of people trying to do their estate plan on their own without the aid of a Michigan estate planning lawyer.  In Estate Planning Gone Wrong Part 2 I discussed the second major issue we see at our Oakland county estate planning law firm, that being people not updating their estate plans.

The third major issue we see with people who either have not done an estate plan or have done an estate plan not at our firm is that people are failing to plan for incapacity.

This problem is also at the heart of the trust vs. will debate where having a living trust based estate plan prepared by a Michigan estate planning lawyer probably makes more sense then just having a Michigan will based estate plan.  The reason is that a last will and testament does not have any planning for incapacity.  Incapacity could take the form of brain injuries, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and other issues not including death.  With our population living longer and longer there is a greater chance than ever that you will spend at least some time legally incapacitated.  Doesn’t it make sense to take this into account in your estate planning?

The way to plan for incapacity is through executing and annually reviewing a living trust based estate plan with effective powers of attorney for health care and financial decisions.  All prepared by a Michigan estate planning lawyer.

Christopher J. Berry, Esq.
Metro Detroit Estate Planning Lawyer

Bookmark and Share

Comments (0)

Older Posts »

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

Genetic Links to Alzheimer’s Uncovered in New Studies

April 3, 2011

Filed under: Asset Protection,Elder Law,Health Care Directives,Holistic Estate Planning — Christopher J. Berry @ 6:45 pm

In a recent NYTimes article, there is a new discovery in Alzheimer’s research.  The two largest Alzheimer’s diseases studies have led to the discovery of five new genes that make the disease more likely in the elderly and provide clues about what might start Alzheimer’s going and fuel Alzheimer’s progress in the brain.

The new genes, according to the article, seem to be linked with cholesterol and inflammation.  To read this article follow the link: New Studies on Alzheimer’s Uncover Genetic Links.

National Healthcare Decisions Day is Coming

February 10, 2010

Filed under: Elder Law,Health Care Directives,Long Term Care — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:56 pm

National Health Care Decisions days is just around the corner. April 16th, 2010 will be the third anniversary of National Health Care Decisions day which helps increase awareness of advanced health care planning and educating Americans about the importance of making health care decisions.

As a Michigan elder law attorney and member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, I want to help spread the word. If you have any questions about National Health Care Decisions day, please contact me or visit the website: NHDD.

Michigan Estate Planning Basics

January 25, 2010

Filed under: Do It Yourself Estate Planning Gone Wrong,Estate Planning,Health Care Directives,LegalZoom,Living Trust,Power of Attorney,Probate,Quicken Willmaker,Suze Orman,Will — Christopher J. Berry @ 4:02 pm

With Michigan Estate Planning, there are a few basic things that you need to know.

First, no matter what your net worth is, how much in assets you have, how much debt you have, you need an estate plan. In Michigan, once you turn 18 you are legally an adult. So, even if you’re a college age adult who lives at home with your parents, there is a certain level of estate planning that should be done. That is you need, what our office calls, a disability plan. A disability plan plans for your disability or incapacity.  We would put together a Patient Advocate Designation (which is the Michigan equivalent to a health care power of attorney), HIPAA Authorization, and a Financial Power of Attorney that most likely would name your parents as decision makers and agents.

Now that we’ve established that if you’re over the age of 18, you need the disability documents, the next step would be once you have assets (now matter how meager) or children, it is important to plan for your assets and children.  This is done through using Revocable Living Trusts and Last Wills and Testaments.  Whether you opt for a Living Trust based estate plan or a Will based estate plan will depend on your goals.  Remember a Last Will and Testament only gives instructions to the Michigan Probate court on how to administer your estate, it does not avoid probate.

Lastly, it is important to consult a Michigan estate planning attorney in preparing your estate plan.  Proper Michigan estate planning involves more than buying Nolo Willmaker software or reading the latest Suze Orman Trust Kit book.  It involves analyzing your goals and situation and using the estate planning tools we’ve discussed in the most effective and cost effective way.


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