Even in its first few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic caused many people to examine or reassess what is most important to them. The need to prepare in case of an emergency or untimely death has been highlighted by the tragic losses occurring around the country. What can you do if you can’t meet with your attorney to make an estate plan or change an existing one? Fortunately, today’s technology has made this process possible to accomplish remotely.
Below are some important things you should know if you need an attorney to help you with your estate plan during this pandemic:
- Most estate planning can be done remotely — Long gone are the days when you needed to meet an attorney in person in order for them to perform legal services for you. During the lockdown, most lawyers are able to work from home and are available to you via email, phone and live video conferencing. Your documents can be sent to you through the mail when necessary.
- You might be able to sign your documents from home — Estate planning documents can likely be signed without your attorney physically present. If applicable, your attorney can send you specific instructions on how to make sure your signature is legally binding. This might require other people to witness you signing your documents. Of course, you should practice proper social distancing while doing so.
- Online notarization is gaining popularity — While most states currently don’t allow for online notarization, some states have allowed for temporary electronic notarization during this COVID-19 pandemic. Indiana and Nevada already allow for electronic wills, and Florida has legalized the practice, effective July 1, 2020. Though notarization makes a will “self-executing,” the lack of a stamp does not invalidate a testamentary document in many jurisdictions. Rather, a little more effort might be required to demonstrate its authenticity.
It’s always a wise time to establish a sound estate plan, and current events certainly highlight the need for security. Working with a qualified attorney on a will, trust or advance medical directive can make a tremendous difference in the lives of your loved ones and provide you with peace of mind no matter what lies ahead.
Contact a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer to learn about your options
Ritchey & Ritchey assists individuals and families with various estate planning matters, such as the creation of wills and trusts. To schedule a consultation, please call 205-332-1618 or contact the firm online.