How To Correct a Death Certificate in Michigan

August 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christopher J. Berry @ 9:25 pm

As Michigan estate planning attorneys, a question that occasionally we hear is “how do I correct a death certificate?” In Michigan, the process is not too difficult. In fact, the paperwork can be obtained online at

Once the form is printed out and completed, the application must be sent to Vital Records Changes, PO Box 30721, Lansing, Michigan 48909, along with the fee of $40.  Additional certified copies are $12 per copy.

If you have questions, in addition to contact us, you may contact the Michigan Vital Records Changes Unit at (517)-335-8660.

One thing to note, however, the process can take longer than expected and up to 3-4 months to get the updated death certificate.

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Michigan Estate Planning Free Legal Check-up

May 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christopher J. Berry @ 9:42 pm

Your very own free Michigan estate planning and elder law legal check up.  All you have to do is click the  icon below to begin.  All information is confidential and will not be shared.

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Employer Support for Care Giving Employees

March 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christopher J. Berry @ 10:06 pm

Michigan Employer Support for Care Giving Employees.

“There are only four kinds of people in this world. Those who have been caregivers, those who are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” Rosalynn Carter, Former First Lady

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that in the year 2010, 54% of workforce employees will provide eldercare for a parent or parents and that nearly two-thirds of caregivers will experience conflict between demands at home and demands from employers.

Today’s employed Baby Boomers are the caregiver generation for their parents. They are finding themselves juggling care responsibilities around their employment obligations. Sometimes employees find they have no option but to take leave from work or use sick time to meet their caregiving demands.

Employers also feel the toll it is taking on their employees. A report by the AARP describes the cost to employers:

“Companies are also seeing the emotional and physical toll that caregiving takes on their workers. In one study, 75% of employees caring for adults reported negative health consequences, including depression, stress, panic attacks, headaches, loss of energy and sleep, weight loss, and physical pain. Businesses suffer, too, by having to pay high health insurance costs and in lost productivity. That doesn’t count the promotions or assignments workers turn down that require travel or relocation away from aging relatives.”

Businesses that don’t offer benefits or address eldercare wind up paying for them. A recent study by the MetLife Market Mature Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving states that U.S. companies pay between $17.1 billion and $33.6 billion annually, depending on the level of caregiving involved, on lost productivity. That equals $2,110 for every full-time worker who cares for an adult.

Eldercare cost businesses:

* $6.6 billion to replace employees (9% left work either to take early retirement or quit)
* Nearly $7 billion in workday interruptions (coming in late, leaving early, taking time off during the day, or spending work time on eldercare matters)
* $4.3 billion in absenteeism” AARP

Typically, human resource departments work with employees on many issues that may affect their work productivity. There are programs for drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, illness, absenteeism and child care; but, help with eldercare issues is not normally provided.

The AARP report follows several companies who are providing help with eldercare issues and what they are doing for their employees.

* “Freddie Mac has a free eldercare consultant and access to subsidized aides for a relative up to 20 days.
* Verizon Wireless offers seminars on eldercare issues and allows full-time workers 80 hours a year in back-up care, 40 hours for part-time, and $4/hour for in-home help.
* At the Atlanta law firm Alston & Bird LLP, workers can donate vacation time to colleagues who have used up theirs to care for family members. ” AARP

A growing number of companies nationwide are directing their HR departments to provide resources, education and group help for caregiving issues by:

* Providing materials from community resources such as phone numbers to their local Senior Centers or Area Agencies on Aging.
* Making available brochures and booklets on specific programs and services by eldercare experts
* Providing speakers to educate employees on caregiving options
* Allowing options to use paid sick leave, employee job sharingand flexible hours
* Allowing employee caregivers to use business computers for caregiving research
* Contracting with companies who provide eldercare services to help employees

Eldercare service providers are also reaching out to help employee caregivers by providing informational presentations at the work place during lunch time or other times set up by employers. One such presentation provided information on reverse mortgages. Jason, who had been trying to help his parents pay for home care, learned at a work site presentation that a reverse mortgage was one way to cover caregiver expenses.

The HR Department of a local business in Utah, invited the Salt Lake Eldercare Planning Council to present a “Brown bag, Lunch and Learn” during their employees’ lunch hour. In 30 minutes time, those who attended learned how the services of a Care Manger, Home Care Provider, Elder Attorney, Medicaid Planner and Financial Consultant can help with caregiving decisions. Problems were discussed, questions answered and employees left armed with information and the names of professional people they knew could help them.

“This was the most productive lunch I have ever attended”, related Mary, one of the attendees.

“I had been very hesitant to contact an attorney to discuss my parents’ estate, because of the cost involved. The attorney at our ‘lunch and learn’ answered my few basic questions which will allow me to prepare what I need before I meet with him to finalize my parents’ estate planning.”

Besides workplace help for employers and employees dealing with caregiving, the internet is also a great research tool. The National Care Planning Council website at is a comprehensive resource for eldercare, senior care and long term care planning. It contains hundreds of articles on all aspects of eldercare. Professional providers list their services on the NCPC website. Each of their listings provides unique information on specific eldercare services and how to obtain help.

Employers, employees and eldercare service providers working together can make parent or senior caregiving a workable solution for all.

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What Do a Metro Detroit Top Lawyer and a Burger Place Have in Common?

February 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christopher J. Berry @ 3:47 pm

Michael Witzke was recently named a Metro Detroit “Top Lawyer” in DBusiness Magazine, which is great. As his law partner, I’m very happy for him and look to win that honor in the near future. However, I too was just recently in DBusiness magazine as well. My photo, along with my wife, was in DBusiness magazine for the VIP grand opening of a new Bagger Dave’s restaurant in Novi, Michigan. I think in the grand scheme of things, I win!

You can read the article and see the pictures here: Bagger Dave’s Grand Opening.

-Christopher J. Berry

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Federal Estate Tax Action Uncertain in the Senate

December 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christopher J. Berry @ 4:16 pm

The Senate may not take any action on the Federal Estate Tax issue. The House has passed their version of the Estate Tax bill, effectively freezing the $3.5 Million exemption and 45% tax rate we have currently. CCH, a respected tax reporting company is reporting that the Senate may drag their feet.

Here is a short excerpt from the article you can read here:

The likelihood that the Senate will act on extending the estate tax before it expires at the end of 2009 remains uncertain as health care reform dominates lawmakers’ attention. Senate Democratic leaders are racing to complete work on health care reform by the end of 2009 as they plan to work on weekends and possibly through the Christmas recess to reach that goal.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., huddled with House leaders on December 3 to discuss the estate tax bill, but following the meeting, Reid as much as admitted that there was no time to pass the legislation this year. One option reportedly under consideration, however, is a one-year extension of the estate tax at current 2009 levels that could be attached to an anticipated omnibus appropriations bill.

The Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families, Farmers, and Small Businesses Bill of 2009 (HR 4154) approved by the House on December 3 (TAXDAY, 2009/12/04, C.1) is an unlikely candidate for Senate approval even if the chamber found the time to take it up. One problem with the House bill is that the $3.5-million exemption limit is not indexed for inflation. Both Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., have said that the exemption should be indexed for inflation.

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Michigan Estate Planning Lawyer Facebook Page

December 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christopher J. Berry @ 4:22 pm

The Michigan estate planning lawyer firm of Witzke Berry PLLC now has a Facebook page where you can follow the latest law firm news as well as stay in touch with Michigan estate planning lawyers, Michael P. Witzke, Esq. and Christopher J. Berry, Esq.

You can find our Facebook page at Michigan estate planning lawyers. Our Facebook page is a great way to stay in touch us and with what is happening in Michigan estate planning news. We suggest that you become a fan of the Michigan estate planning lawyer Facebook page, by clicking the “become a fan” link on the left of the page.

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Michigan Estate Planning Lawyer Blog receives The Lovely Blog Award

November 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christopher J. Berry @ 4:28 pm

A special thanks to my fellow estate planning attorney, Ellen Victor of the Long Island Special Needs Law Blog, for nominating the Michigan Estate Planning Lawyer Blog for the Lovely Blog Award.

I’m very passionate about the work that I do and I think the public needs to hear and think about estate planning. Blogging about Michigan estate planning issues is a great way to get the message out.

So, thank you again, and drum roll please, my nominations:

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Ethical Wills and Leaving a Legacy Worth More Than Money

October 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Christopher J. Berry @ 9:08 pm

It should come as little surprise that Baby Boomers are evolving the notion of what it means to leave a legacy for those they love. A growing number of retirees are sharing life histories, ethical wills and video recordings to give their children and grandchildren a more complete understanding of their lives. This sharing of values, wisdom and accomplishment is being encouraged by some financial planners to complement traditional estate planning.

People are conveying their personal legacy in a number of different styles. They can be brief or book-length, and may include audio, video and photos. Whether it be in the form of an ethical will – a document sometimes referred to as a legacy letter or family love letter that provides a heartfelt personal message beyond the financial particulars.

These projects can be handled on your own, or you can seek the guidance of an expert. Paul Wilson, a retired psychiatrist in Bethesda, Md., decided to write a memoir to convey a better sense of who he was in his earlier life to his children and grandchildren. It’s something he wishes his own grandparents would have provided for him. He expects it to be close to 60 pages when complete, and is considering having it self-published to achieve a more polished final product. But regardless of the final product, the 80-year-old Wilson has found great pleasure and personal development in the process.

As a result of the growing interest in this area, more websites and books about ethical wills and other forms of personal legacies have arisen, in addition to entrepreneurial firms to help compile them. For example, the self-publishing house Author Solutions created a firm called Legacy Keepers a year ago. Drawing on a network of personal historians who conduct telephone or in-person interviews, Legacy Keepers turns the thoughts and recollections of customers into keepsake books or video and audio files. List prices range from $975 to $5,000.

Members of the Association of Personal Historians also offer personal legacy services through small businesses with names like Celebrations of Life, Looking Back for the Future and Your Story Here Video Biography.

To learn more about leaving your legacy in the form of an ethical will, contact attorney Marc H. Wander.

Read more:

Marc H. Wander is a partner of the Bloomfield Hills law firm of Witzke, Berry, Carter &Wander, PLLC. Marc has been licensed to practice law in Michigan since 1992. Marc’s practice is devoted to estate planning and business succession planning.  Marc is a member of the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan and is a prior Chairperson of the Oakland County Bar Association Tax Committee. He is a frequent continuing education speaker to insurance agents, financial advisors, CPA’s and financial industry organizations. He has also been heard on WJR Radio. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarcWander

Troy, Michigan Estate Planning Lawyer

April 8, 2011

Filed under: Estate Planning,Uncategorized — Christopher J. Berry @ 11:29 pm

As an Oakland County estate planning law firm, we do quite a bit of education in the local communities.  Often times we are giving estate planning presentations in Troy, Michigan.  For example, last month we had two estate planning presentations at the Troy, Michigan–Michigan State University campus that were well attended by Oakland County residents.  The education included discussions of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other estate planning topics.

Southfield, Michigan Veterans Benefits Continued Education

April 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Christopher J. Berry @ 7:36 pm

I had a great time presenting on Michigan Medicaid and Veterans Benefits to lawyers, CPA’s and nursing home administrators for CE in Southfield, MI the other day. Anytime I can provide education on the Veterans Benefit known as Aid & Attendance, I’m happy.


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