On May 5, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order No. 2020-74 “Encouraging the use of electronic signatures and remote notarization, witnessing, and visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic” until June 30, 2020.
Before the executive order, the witnessing and notarizing of estate plan documents was an in-person only requirement. Now, we can use video conferencing such as Zoom or Skype to sign documents, provided the video conference is recorded and certain protocols are followed. The signor must show his or her driver’s license or other ID and confirm they are physically located in Michigan or the document being signed relates to a transaction substantially connected with the state, such as property or a court matter.
None of us know if we will be affected by the coronavirus outbreak or not. If we are, then it is important to have the right people in place to make our medical decisions and handle our finances if we are incapacitated and cannot do them for ourselves. This is 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.
I am working from my home office and am available for telephone and video conferences. The initial planning conferences can be by telephone, but signings must be by video. I have Skype and Zoom, but if you have a different application that you would like to use, I will try to accommodate you. If you need assistance with setting things up, we are pretty tech-savvy and can lead you through the process.
I don’t know if my office will be opening up in May or June, but right now we are not allowed to meet in person. I also don’t know if remote signing will be extended beyond June 30th, but as of now, we have about 7 more weeks to use it. Please give me a call or contact me through my website if you are interested.
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.