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In It Together: Document Signing

 
  • How to use GoToMeeting, Zoom, and others to facilitate business.
  • How to get documents signed with checklist included.
  • When to re-execute wills if necessary.

ALERT: On April 7, the Governor of New York signed another executive order which allows for remote witnessing of estate planning documents. You can find a link to the new Order here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20214-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency
This video was recorded on March 31, and therefore does not refer to this Order. However the video and accompanying checklist does include a process for remote signings.

Recorded: March, 31, 2020
Interview: Louis Pierro, Pierro, Connor, & Strauss and ElderCounsel Principal, and Valerie Peterson, ElderCounsel

Louis Pierro’s office is located in the hub of the pandemic, New York City. He shares with Valerie an update on what things are like at his office right now and how they are making business decisions regarding essential and non-essential work.

A key component of this is getting documents signed.
Lou’s office had gone completely virtual and after the state of New York came out with the guidelines, they decided a portion of their practice is essential. So they currently have people in the office, creating documents, doing work, and then we are using the video now to do pretty much all of our commerce. So everything is being done – initial consults, right to the document executions – is being done via GoToMeeting.

The New York governor came out with an executive order very early – on as many states have – which dealt with notarization and being able to notarize documents remotely. Virtual notarisation is now very well ingrained in what we’re doing, with a pretty clear track of how to follow the steps, sign documents, get them notarized and have that notary be official and legal. This is linked below as a handout.

Lou’s office took the guidelines that the governor gave them, researched in terms of not notarization but witnessing and the document that is kind of that the heart of that is the will.
Can you do a will remotely? Based upon their research in New York and the things that have been passed right now, if the client is willing to bring two people to the table, 6 feet away to sign the will as witnesses, that’s easy because they can sign and they can witness and you can supervise the execution by video. That’s it, that’s a no-brainer.

What if the client doesn’t want to bring people into home or can’t find people to come into the home? Is there a way that you can do a will signing with witnesses and then a notary? In New York they do a self proving affidavit as part of the process. Can you get all that done by a video teleconference? They think you can and laid out a process in our document checklist (linked below in materials). They have the documents, they sign them, they actually take a picture of the document, they send you that picture, and you, while you’re with a client by a video, sign the document that they sign. So that they have one page with a live signature you have one page with a live signature. You put those two together with an affidavit and that constitutes due execution during this time period. In New York, and it takes a while, because you’re sending those documents back and forth – they’re photographing them, emailing them, you printing them, signing them and then having everything witnessed that way. But what we believe also and what the regs seem to say is once this crisis is over and the emergency measures lift, that each of those wills should be re executed.

Powers of Attorney for frontline healthcare workers
Lou’s office started a program where they are doing healthcare directives and Powers of Attorney by video for any frontline healthcare worker for free. It is Lou’s way to thank the healthcare workers for their service because they are the real heroes in all of this.

Document Execution Checklist
Remote Notarization and Witnessing

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