Creating Your Estate Documents Virtually
Right now mortality and health care needs are 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 are only now lifting strict social distancing and stay-at-home orders, it can be difficult to execute legal documents. Why? Because most states, North Carolina included, require at least one witness and a notary be present when the document is signed in order to be considered valid. Many states 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, additional states have decided to allow remote online notarizations for documents while others 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, our office included, 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.
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.