GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Without a proper Estate Plan in place, a family would have to go thru Probate Court to make some of the most important decisions in the event a loved on is incapacitated. The problem is, Probate Courts for the most part are not running right now due to the Coronavirus. They're only running for emergency cases, according to Dan Borst of Michigan Law Firm Warner, Norcross and Judd, which means without an Estate Plan, families could be in limbo for a long time.
Borst explains that an Estate Plan is made up of three components, first the Will, which which divides assets and appoints guardianship of your minor children. The second facet is the Durable Power of Attorney, which is used to make financial decisions and pay your bills if you die or are incapacitated. The third part of the Estate Plan is the Patient Advocate Designation, which explains what care you receive and end of life decisions.
To have an attorney like Borst put together an Estate Plan would require two in-person visits under normal circumstances. The first visit would be to talk about and write up the orders, and the second visit would be for you to sign the documents in front of a third party witness, but with our state order to stay home, those in-person visits can't happen right now. Borst is hopeful that the governor will soon allow this important legal process to be done via video conference. "The rules are in place, under normal circumstances, so these documents are authentic, that we know they are what they claim to be. But we are hoping these rules are relaxed and that we would be able to verify that they are the documents in a video conference. The timing is unknown, but the governor is expected, or we are hopeful, that she would issue this Executive Order within the end of this week."
Borst says now is also a good time to speak with your family about your bills, how you pay them, where to find the online passwords, all of the important details so someone can jump in for you if necessary. If you are interested in having a Family Estate Plan drawn-up, Borst says you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 or $600, possibly up to $1,200 and maybe even $1,500 — depending on what firm you use.