Legal Tools for Families in Crisis

Personal Pandemic Survival Kit

Posted In: News, Investigative Reporting,   From Issue 894   By: Greg Schmid

02nd April, 2020     0

In the chaotic times to come, families will face the prospect of swift and unforeseen change of circumstance. The Great Lakes Bay area may see hundreds of people stricken with the virus that rages through our community. Most people have family to provide for in the emergency, and getting their affairs in order is the best use of downtime now to avoid legal red tape later, when the chips are down.

One thing people will discover in a national shutdown is that government is not always there to help.  The legal system does not work when no one is at the courthouse to administer it, and it is incumbent on each family to have a plan for who oversees your children, your money, and your medical care. 

The REVIEW  has made available some basic legal forms that may help you maintain control over your family situation if bad times come and you, along with the court system, are out of commission. 


This simple form allows a parent to authorize a grandparent or any other adult to care for a child for a term of no more than 180 days. The power automatically expires after 180 days, but can be renewed over and over, and the parent can revoke the power anytime. 

This is usually used in connection with travel or school enrollment, but it also empowers medical care for the child, and it will come in handy in case you are incapacitated or need to travel to get work. 

This form does not require a witness, but you may wish to add one, and it should be self-explanatory; just include the parents name and address, the child’s name and birthdate, and the name of the caretaker on the form provided. This form helps you avoid the time and expense having a guardian or conservator appointed for the care of your child when the need for care is temporary.

The second set of forms provided are courtesy of the State Bar of Michigan.

A GUIDE TO MEDICAL AND LEGAL DECISIONS is a planning handbook that contains a DESIGNATION OF PATIENT ADVOCATE FORM and “STATUTORY WILL,”both of which require 2 witnesses. 

It is important that you have a will,  especially when you have children, so you can nominate who would be the guardian and/or conservator of your child in the event of your death. 

The included Will contains just such a provision, and making this designation is one of the most important and selfless acts you can undertake as a parent. 

The DESIGNATION OF PATIENT ADVOCATE FORM is simple a form you use to authorize your kin or any adult to take charge of your medical care decisions only when you are so sick that you are unconscious or unable to take part in decision making yourself. It only takes effect if 2 doctors sign-off saying you are not able to take part in your decisions, and the form presumes you have discussed your health decisions with the chosen advocate in advance so that they know what you would want them to decide if it comes down to pulling the plug or staying on life support.

There are other documents that people should consider. A “DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY” is a document that authorizes another adult that you designate to handle your financial affairs. It can take effect immediately upon execution or can “spring” only when you become legally incompetent to make decisions. 

We have not included such a form due to its potential for abuse in the wrong hands, so make sure to have an attorney draft this form for you if needed.

The REVIEW  hopes you will never be in a situation where these legal forms become necessary, but in case you do we make them available below.



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