Executive order allows for electronic and remote signing, witnessing, and notary of trusts, wills, powers of attorney in Michigan

The spread of the coronavirus in Michigan has caused many to want to make changes to their estate plans and powers of attorney, but at the same time the quarantine has prevented them from meeting anyone to get it done. Until today, the formalities and signing requirements (witnesses, notaries, etc) have prevented people from doing this without violating the law.

What follows is some general information for both future and former clients about completing an estate plan remotely or electronically (e-signature, remote notary, etc). You should contact our office for more details. Currently, this is only an available option through October 31, 2020, but could be extended past that date. The documents will be valid after October 31, 2020 (i.e., they do not expire when the state of emergency ends).

People without an existing estate plan

If you have no will or trust in place yet in place, it can be now be done remotely with affecting its validity. Beginning on April 8, 2020, the governor has signed executive orders that temporarily allows us to remotely sign, notarize, and witness your estate planning documents (most recently, EO 2020-173). The procedures involved have been announced, but I am coordinating with those behind the executive order effort to try to standardize this process to eliminate the chance for error (i.e., some clarification is necessary to ensure the documents are considered tamper-proof, notary acknowledgments need to be addressed, etc.).

Essentially, the executive order would permit a person printing their own document with paper and ink or using an electronic signature platform (we will provide this for those who desire it), while also using a video chat service that can be recorded which will allow us to verify your identity, converse with you, and see the signings happen (the free smartphone/PC app “Zoom,” Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, are some of the best choices for this for now).

People with an existing estate plan

If you are a former or new client with an existing trust, your trust can likely easily be amended and updated without much effort or the need for witnesses, notaries, or video chat. If you have a will or financial or medical powers of attorney/patient advocate designations that need to be updated or a codicil drafted, the process will be similar or the same to that described above for current or prospective clients.

Contact us for an electronic estate plan!

If you are interested creating an electronic estate plan or updating your estate plan, please contact me by calling our office at 734-855-4999 and we’ll get you started with a link to our easy-to-use electronic estate planning questionnaire.

We also participate in MetLife Legal Plan (formerly called Hyatt Legal Plan) and ARAG Legal Plans for estate planning services offered through many Michigan employers.