Executive Order Allows for Remote Signature & Notarization of Estate Planning Documents

Under Executive Order 2020-173 requirements for in-person notarizations are temporarily suspended and transactions that require a notary to be completed via two-way, real-time audiovisual technology are allowed.

The order also permits the use of electronic signatures in all cases, except in rare circumstances when a physical signature is specifically required by statute. The order takes extends the validity of notary commissions through September 30, 2020.

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 the documents below.

  • 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.
  • The General Durable Power of Attorney document for financial business decisions is a legal document in which you name another person to act on your behalf.
  • A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (living will) is a document in which 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.
  • The DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order, signed by an individual and signed-off by the person’s doctor after consultation, includes instructs healthcare providers to not attempt to resuscitate the individual if their heart stops or if they stop breathing.
  • A Designation of Funeral Representative is 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.
  • The Access and Management of Digital Assets is 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 serves as a guide for managing your affairs if you are incapacitated.
  • Life insurance, which includes either a term, an umbrella, or a whole life policy Life insurance 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 and other investments that provide retirement income or assets to specified individuals upon a certain event.
  • You should meet with an attorney and accountant to discuss the tax consequences of your estate plan.

O’Reilly Rancilio estate planning attorneys are ready to assist new and existing clients with all of their remote estate planning needs. For additional information, visit our website or call 586-726-1000.