Many of us are staying at home due to COVID-19, including myself. I am working in my home office and am available for telephone or video conferences.
This might be a good time to update your estate plan documents and certainly, if you or someone you know has no estate plan, they should consider putting one in place. At a minimum, every adult should have a last will and testament, power of attorney for finances and a patient advocate designation (sometimes called a medical or health care power of attorney). If you have minor children, the will is where you name who is to be their guardian in the event of your death.
Currently, the document signing must be in person in front of witnesses and, most often, a notary. In Michigan, a will can be signed with just witnesses if it is signed under “penalties for perjury”, just like you sign your tax return. The witness and notary requirements may delay the signing to when the crisis is over, nonetheless, you can do the legwork for estate planning such as discussions about the documents, drafting and reviewing. You may be able to sign a will without a notary if you can find two (2) witnesses who are not beneficiaries named in your will to assist you.
We are waiting for guidance from the State of Michigan on whether we can use video conferencing to witness and notarize documents in lieu of the in-person requirement during the crisis. It is expected soon and I will keep you updated.
Let’s take advantage of this time when we are nesting to do something positive. It is often difficult to fit in time for estate planning when you are working, so let’s do it now. If anything, COVID-19 should be reminding us all to legally prepare for our futures by making sure we have the right people in place to make medical or financial decisions for us in the event that we are incapacitated and unable to make them for ourselves. This in addition to documents such as wills and trusts that direct where our assets go after we are gone.
If you have any questions on estate planning, please call Karen L. Stewart, Attorney, and Counselor at (248) 735-0900.
For more information, please see my website, www.customestateplans.com.