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In It Together: Client Meetings and Signings in California

  • Setting a process for meetings with ongoing clients vs new clients.
  • How they are handling document signings in California since there is no executive order issued to allow remote notary and/or witnesses (as of April 7).
  • Important to help support each other, both clients and fellow attorneys.

Recorded: April 7, 2020
Interview: Amy Haupert,Esq., Law Office of Fay Blix

Amy Haupert is with the Law Office of Fay Blix, Laguna Hills, CA.

At Fay Blix, we started working remotely 3 weeks ago upon the Stay at Home order from Governor Newsom. We were not set up for it and hadn’t worked remotely at all until then. We had a learning curve but we are doing it – it is working. Our office has a staff of four. The Law Office of Fay Blix is mainly Elder Law and Estate Planning with some court work. I am keeping those court cases updated with the status due to court closures. 

Client Meetings
We are conducting client meetings via telephone – no face-to-face meetings are being held at this time. Our calendar was booked out a month when the Stay at Home order was given. Our receptionist called all of our clients to shift to a phone consultation and most of them accepted. A few clients opted to wait for an in-person meeting. Fay Blix is reaching back out to make sure clients are still okay with the delay – no pressure. In addition to telephone calls, Facetime is working very well. Clients appreciate it and are familiar with it.

New Clients
We do treat new clients differently. We prefer an initial video call. I  verify that they are alone in the room – free of coercion and ask them to pan the room with the camera. This isn’t a guarantee so we do let them know that we will follow up with them in person to confirm their wishes when the Stay at Home is lifted. Most clients are agreeable to that suggestion. I have found that most new clients are signing in an emergency state of mind, and we need to make sure that urgency hasn’t led them to sign something that isn’t exactly how they want it to be.

Signing Documents
California hasn’t issued any type of emergency order to allow remote witness or remote notary as of 7 April 2020. Our firm is not going to client homes so we email or mail docs with instructions that include a list of ways to notarize and witness their documents: 

  • Banks
  • Mobile Notaries
  • Remote notary in other states

Most clients are choosing banks, this is where they feel safest. We’ve had no complaints, it has gone very smoothly and banks are taking very good care of the clients. Fay Blix does not recommend any particular method. 

You are not alone – we are all struggling. Reach out to your clients and make yourself available. Offer options… phone, Facetime; extend your hours. Reach out to your mentors, to your listservs, to your colleagues, etc. 

Unexpected Upside
Our turnaround has been great. I recently had a consult at 10am, my paralegal drafted the documents that afternoon, I was able to review them that evening and do the trust. My paralegal emailed documents w/ signing instructions out the next day – that was a  24 hour turnaround! 

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