Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Communication with loved ones is more important than ever for people to stay connected while living apart.

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day, and experts say that whether huddling by phone or through virtual chat, it’s a good day for people to take stock of paperwork and ensure wishes about certain situations are clear.

Free services from MetLife

To assist the U-M community during the COVID-19 pandemic, MetLife Legal Plans (formerly Hyatt Legal Plans) is offering U-M faculty and staff free access to its self-help library for the completion of wills, living wills/advanced directives, and power-of-attorney documents.

This access applies to all faculty and staff, even if they are not members of MetLife Legal Plans, through July 31.

For online access, go to info.legalplans.com and enter the access code 9790010. Then, in the Covered Services tab, click on Self-Help Documents.

It’s important to note that living wills are not valid until they’ve been notarized and signed. Electronic and remote notarization is available through Michigan Secretary of State-approved vendors.

While it’s best to have wills and testaments notarized, these documents are legally binding with the signatures of the person to whom the will pertains and two witnesses. Contact MetLife at 800-821-6400 for guidance.

Faculty and staff who have U-M’s optional life insurance benefit or are enrolled in the university’s Legal Services Plan already have free access to wills and living wills/advanced directives planning, and aren’t limited by the July 31 deadline. They may apply for optional life insurance any time. Employees may sign up for the Legal Services Plan during open enrollment in October for coverage effective Jan. 1, 2021.

Virtual and phone services

In addition to its online library, MetLife will review existing documents related to wills, living wills and estate planning by phone or virtual appointment. Call 800-821-6400 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT. Callers will be asked to identify their employer, give the last four digits of their Social Security number and indicate if they’d like services as part of MetLife’s Disaster Relief Plan.

Are beneficiaries up to date?

Keeping beneficiary designations current is one of the easiest and most important ways to protect loved ones financially. If a major life event — such as a marriage, divorce, birth of a child or death of a loved one — happens, revise beneficiary information accordingly.

Keep in mind that for U-M benefits, beneficiaries must be updated separately through TIAA and Fidelity Investments for retirement savings plan accounts, and through MetLife for life insurance.

Proper estate planning is about making sure employees’ wishes are carried out in many areas that impact health and finances. For help thinking through an estate plan, this video presentation by MetLife covers setting and prioritizing goals, tax considerations and 10 common estate planning mistakes.
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