Creating Your Estate Documents Virtually
Right now mortality is on the front of people’s minds.
It is no wonder that this is happening as people are fearful due to COVID-19. Scores of people have ﬂocked to have their estate planning documents and wills created and updated. According to some statistics, an estimated 52% of people ages 55 and up don’t have a will or other types of estate planning documents.
So how, in the middle of a pandemic, can you get your end of life wishes in writing?
Making a Will – Virtually Because many states have enacted strict social distancing and stay-at-home orders, it can be difﬁcult to execute legal documents. Why? Because in North Carolina, two witnesses and a notary must be present when the document is signed in order to be considered valid.
Many states, like North Carolina, even require these people to be disinterested parties, meaning they are not inheriting anything from the document.
Prior to the pandemic, 23 states had already made exceptions to allow remote online notarization of documents. This means that the people could be in two different locations and use audiovisual communication, such as Zoom, to securely execute the documents.
Since COVID-19, North Carolina has temporarily decided to allow remote online notarizations for documents. Many other states have made their laws more ﬂexible during the pandemic. New York, for example, approved an order permitting video notarization for those wishing to update or execute their wills or other such legal documents without leaving their home or having others come to their home as long as they met speciﬁc conditions such as videoconferencing.
Many estate planning attorneys are connecting with their clients through videoconferencing such as Skype or Zoom.
This allows them to discuss their client’s wishes without either of the parties having to come into direct contact.
Nearly all aspects of key estate planning documents can be completed through these meetings. Key estate planning documents include wills, durable power of attorney for ﬁnances, living wills, and durable power of attorney for medical information.
Takeaway While it may be tempting to use an online program to complete your estate planning documents, keep in mind that you get what you pay for.
While these online programs may be a bit cheaper, the problem with them is that you don’t get tailored advice or a tailored document that you would from an attorney.