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EPIC Omnibus Legislation Enacted with Sweeping EPIC Amendments

By Tala Dahbour posted 03-06-2024 09:11


The EPIC Omnibus bill was signed into law on February 21, 2024, and takes immediate effect. 2024 PA 1. The new law, put forward by the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan, streamlines Michigan probate and estate law based on surveys of appellate cases and practitioners to identify areas of clarification and adopts certain standards from the Uniform Probate Code. Notable changes include:

  • Statutory Thresholds. To alleviate the often-burdensome cost of judicial intervention in the transfer of assets, the amendments increase the statutory dollar number threshold dictating certain actions, such as the threshold for demanding that a personal representative obtain a bond, MCL 700.3605, and increasing the maximum value of unclaimed assets that a personal representative may hold without depositing to the county treasurer, MCL 700.3916. See also amendments to thresholds under MCL 700.2519, .3917, .3918, .3981, .3982, .3983, and .5102. Statutory thresholds have also been increased under the Michigan Vehicle Code, the Michigan Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, and the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. See 2024 PA 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Certain threshold statutory amounts are to be multiplied by the cost-of-living adjustment factor for the calendar year in which the decedent dies. See amended statutes MCL 700.1210(2) and .1103(b).
  • Ethical Attorney Conduct. The amendments void inappropriate gifts to attorneys who prepare the estate planning instruments, sometimes referred to as the ‘Mardigian fix.’ Per the amendments, any substantial gift to a drafting attorney or the attorney’s relative is void unless the recipient is related to the individual making the substantial gift. See added section MCL 700.1216.
  • Standby Guardians. The amendments provide comprehensive procedures for the appointment of standby guardians to avoid gaps in guardianship due to unforeseen circumstances. The standby guardian would retain limited authority to act if the guardian dies, is permanently or temporarily unavailable, or is removed or suspended by the court. The policies regarding standby guardianship are laid out under amended statute MCL 700.5301c.
  • Patient Advocates. MCL 700.5507(2) is added and provides that patient advocate designations may include instructions on how patient advocates should make decisions.
  • Trusts.
    • The following definitions are amended:
      • Charitable trusts: definition narrowed to trusts for which the charitable purpose is a material purpose. See amended statute MCL 700.7103(c).
      • Qualified Trust Beneficiary: definition amended to specify individuals whom the settlor intended to benefit significantly as a material purpose of the trust, given certain provisions apply. See amended statute MCL 700.7103(g).
    • Trust for the Care of Animals. The addition of MCL 700.7408 provides for the creation of a trust for the purpose of the care of a designated domestic pet or animal alive during the settlor’s lifetime. Accordingly, MCL 700.2722, which governed honorary trusts and trusts for pets, is repealed.
    • Noncharitable Trusts. The addition of MCL 700.7409 provides for the creation of a noncharitable trust and the rules of enforcement.
      • The addition of MCL 700.7409a allows settlors of noncharitable trusts, under certain circumstances, to withhold certain prime disclosure information from one or more beneficiaries for a nondisclosure period of up to 25 years.
    • Creditor's Claims Against Settlors. Amendments to MCL 700.7506 revise circumstances under which an individual is considered a settlor of a trust after termination of the individual’s spouse’s prior beneficial interest.
    • Contesting the Validity of a Revocable Trust. The circumstances of contesting a revocable trust subject to a nondisclosure period as described in MCL 700.7409a are modified in amendments to MCL 700.7604.
    • Discretionary Trust Provisions of Irrevocable Trusts. Amendments to MCL 700.7820a prescribe modified conditions of a material change in the interest of a beneficiary as it pertains to discretionary trust provisions.
  • Knowledge of Fact. The amendments repeal MCL 700.7104 (on notice or knowledge of fact) and add MCL 700.1215, which outlines the circumstances under which a person would have knowledge of a fact under the statute.
  • Power of Appointment. Amendments to MCL 700.7302 change provisions governing the power of appointment.