During the Coronavirus crisis, Chalgian and Tripp Law Offices will continue to assist existing clients and will be accepting new clients throughout Michigan. That said, there are many ways in which this crisis is impacting the way those services will be provided. This is NOT business as usual. Among other things, delivery of services will be modified to the extent necessary to comply with the Michigan “Stay at Home” Order. Here are some things you should know: Basic Wills and Trusts This crisis is undoubtedly making people think about getting their affairs in order. We can help.
Does that mean you have to come into a CT office to meet with an attorney during the crisis? No. At least until April 14, 2020, our offices will be closed and all meetings will have to occur remotely (aka virtually). CT offers many options for meeting with attorneys via remote access, including programs like: Zoom, Go to meetings, and yes – even Facetime. But let’s not forget some of the “old school” connectivity tools. It’s surprising how much you can do by phone and email. When documents need to be signed, we can arrange for those signings to happen at remote locations, and in some instances, to be witnessed electronically. Even “drivethrough witnessing” of legal documents may be an option for CT clients.
This crisis will not change the rate at which people age, develop dementia or have falls. Accordingly, our clients will continue to need help arranging their estates so that they can become qualified for assistance through Michigan’s various long term care Medicaid programs. While the crisis will likely delay the State’s ability to process these applications, the critical timing requirements of spending down and restructuring assets to become eligible will remain unaltered. We encourage clients facing the high costs of long term care to arrange a virtual meeting with a CT attorney to explore planning options. Even during this crisis, delays can be costly.
CT social workers and case managers are likewise still on the job and ready to help clients explore care and placement options. Their knowledge of which facilities have open beds and how those facilities are functioning during
the crisis is especially helpful in these volatile times.
Guardianships and Conservatorships
Courts throughout Michigan have limited the types of matters that they will hear during the crisis. Except for emergencies, most pending guardianship and conservatorship hearings are being postponed, and new hearings are not being scheduled. It’s impossible at this time to guess how long this situation will last, or how courts will address
pressing matters address pressing matters as they arise.
If you think someone you know needs court protection, our lawyers are prepared to discuss the situation with you. If it is an emergency, we can look at getting the matter addressed even while the courts are partially shut down. If it’s not an emergency, getting things filed, or at least prepared to be filed, will likely shorten the wait when the court’s reopen for business. In addition, there may be steps that can be taken without court.
Estate and Trust Administration
People will continue to die and become incompetent during the crisis. This means that estates and trusts will need
to be administered and settled. During this crisis, the responsibilities of a personal representative or trustee will be no less onerous, and they will be no less subject to being sued if their performance falls short of what the law requires. If you are in charge of a trust or estate, you are strongly encouraged to make a virtual appointment with one of our attorneys. In situations in which there are “probate assets,” you can expect some delay as a result of the current status of the probate court offices, as discussed above.
Notwithstanding this crisis, and perhaps even because of it, older adults will continue to be exploited; continue to sign wills, trusts, deeds and other documents that need to be challenged due to lack of capacity and undue influence.
The lack of immediate access to probate courts will make litigation even more challenging, but that doesn’t
mean nothing can be done. There are tools that are still available to stop bad actors from profiting from
their wrongdoing. Some courts are still hearing emergency matters and all courts will be taking new cases at
some point in the near future. In these situations, timing is often the key. Once the money is gone, it is
often difficult or impossible to recover, even if you can prove your case.
Chalgian and Tripp has been assisting clients and protecting Michigan’s vulnerable adults since 2002. We
are not about to abandon our watch now. If life events cause you to need assistance with elder law or estate
planning matters during this crisis, call the CT office near you and talk to one of the members of the CT
team about how best to interface with one of our lawyers in a safe but productive manner.