With the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are looking to execute estate plans they’ve delayed in finalizing and signing. Others are ready to get going on their estate plans that they should’ve started years ago.
Forbes’ recent article titled “Eight Estate Planning Strategies In A COVID-19 World” lists some things you should know.
- Most estate planning can be done at home. While you may be restricted from physically seeing your attorney, you can still create, update, or finalize your estate plan. Attorneys are working remotely and are available via email, telephone, and video conferencing to help you.
- Get your estate planning in order. The odds are you now have some time to consider the issues you’ve placed on the back burner for a long time. Leverage this time to address your estate planning.
- New options for signing documents. Many attorneys are approaching estate plan document signings on a case-by-case basis. You may be able to sign in the attorney’s office or at your home while practicing social distancing and wearing gloves and masks. Some law firms are even offering drive-up will signings.
Some states now permit online notarization of certain types of documents.
These new laws allow for remote online notarization (RON), a process by which notarization is conducted via video conferencing. In this process, the signing party (the “principal”) must undergo an identity-proofing process that differs by state.
In most states, the principals are required to answer several personal questions. They also must show valid ID, which in many states must be examined and verified by a third-party security service. Once the principal’s identity is confirmed, they sign the document with a digital signature. The remote online notary witnesses the document by affixing an electronic seal as they stream the live, audio-visual conference.
Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney about how you should proceed with your estate planning, in light of this new (and hopefully temporary) reality. At the least, you can get all your documents organized and ready to sign when it is safe to venture outside.
Reference: Forbes (March 23, 2020) “Eight Estate Planning Strategies In A COVID-19 World”