As a Grand Rapids, Michigan estate planning attorney I’m regularly involved in, and overhear, conversations involving the various aspects of estate planning.  Interesting to me is that many of those conversation involve wills, trusts, and financial powers of attorney, yet far less involve healthcare powers of attorney or patient advocate designations.  And many that do, give it merely a passing mention and may even involve talk of just “using the state form . . . it should work fine.”  This concerns me!

Why?  Because we’re talking about YOU – this is your life, your health and your well being.  Why would you give it nothing more than a passing thought, especially in a day when we are living longer and have increased care needs because of it?  I have heard many wonderful people say “my family knows what I want and I trust them to make the right decision.”  Well, what is the “right” decision?  Have you talked to them about it?  How long ago was it?  Has your mind changed about your healthcare in that time?  Do you think they remember what you shared with them?  Are you sure they will follow your wishes?

I’m not just talking about “pulling the plug,” although that seems to be what most of us think about when we think of others making medical decisions on our behalf.  What about complications during surgery?  During other period when you are unconscious?  Choosing who will make these decisions on your behalf is very important!

I hope I’m not off base with my concern for the lack of care given to such an important part of our estate plans.  I believe this should be a key consideration in every estate plan, no matter how young or old you may be – things happen that are out of our control.  Please consider this a wake-up call to run (not walk) to an estate planning attorney who will take the time to learn who you are, what is important to you, and help you design a plan that provides you with the care you want and deserve while giving your family and friends clear guidance on your wishes.

P.S. I regularly hear “oh, I’m all set – I have a living will.”  If that’s you, read my earlier blog post on the topic by clicking here.

Michael Lichterman is an estate planning and business planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™.  This goes beyond merely planning for finances – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you.  He focuses on estate and asset protection planning for  the “experienced” generation, the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, family owned businesses and pet planning.  He takes the “counselor” part of attorney and counselor at law very seriously, and enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients – many of which have become great friends.