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Executive Order Allows for Remote Signature and Notarization of Estate Planning Documents Through June 30

Recently, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-74, which temporarily suspends requirements for in-person notarizations, and allows transactions that require a notary to be completed via two-way, real-time audiovisual technology.

The order also permits the use of electronic signatures in all cases, except in rare circumstances when a physical signature is required. The order continues through June 30.

Those who don’t have an estate plan may want to take advantage of the order to secure their documents remotely. Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced legal offices to close, clients seeking estate planning documents typically had to visit the office to finalize the estate plan. Teleconferencing was not permitted by law as an acceptable way to obtain and notarize signatures.

“It is important that Michiganders take every precaution to avoid person-to-person contact,” said Gov. Whitmer in a press release. “Encouraging the use of e-signatures and alternative means of notarization will protect more people and help us slow the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. I will continue to work around the clock to ensure we protect the most people we can from this virus.”

An estate plan may include:

  • A will provides instructions to the probate court concerning distributing assets to your family, friends, and other beneficiaries.
  • A trust sets money aside for a specific purpose and identifies both the trustee who will manage your assets and your beneficiaries who will receive them at a specified time.
  • General Durable Power of Attorney for financial business decisions. A power of attorney is a legal document in which you name another person to act on your behalf.
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (living will). The person you designate as your patient advocate has the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf (including carrying out your wishes with respect to end-of-life preferences) if you are unable to do so yourself.
  • A DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order. This form, signed by an individual and signed-off by the person’s doctor after consultation, instructs healthcare providers to not attempt to resuscitate the individual if their heart stops or if they stop breathing.
  • A Designation of Funeral Representative. A document that authorizes the appointed person to make arrangements regarding the funeral, burial, cremation, or disposition of one’s body upon death, as provided in the Michigan Funeral Representative Act.
  • Access and Management of Digital Assets. A document that authorizes the appointed individual to access, manage, copy, distribute, deactivate, and delete an individual’s digital assets. Digital assets include online accounts, email, travel reward programs, mobile phone information, electronically stored photographs, eBay accounts, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media accounts, and commercial websites as provided in the Michigan Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act.
  • A list of assets. The list serves as a guide for managing your affairs if you are incapacitated.
  • Life insurance. Either a term or a whole life policy can benefit a surviving loved one without the tax issues a cash gift might have.
  • Retirement assets, IRAs, and 401(k) and 403(b) plans. Investments that provide retirement income or assets to specified individuals upon a certain event.
  • An estate plan tax review. Meet with your attorney and accountant to discuss the tax consequences of your estate plan.

O’Reilly Rancilio estate planning attorneys are working remotely and ready to assist new clients. For additional information, visit our website or call 586-726-1000.

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