The spread of COVID-19 prompted many individuals to seek refuge in their houses. At the same time, many firms enabled workers to work from home and shuttered their physical infrastructure. While many individuals have found ways to continue their everyday lives from home, a few tasks still need to be done in person. Specific governmental papers, for example, may require notarization and eyewitness signatures. Without these crucial components, no intestacy deed or contract can have a legal impact, especially in the area of estate planning. Although trust and estate attorney may be able to assist with creating an estate plan via online discussions, final copies of paperwork may still require an in-person visit.
Many states, however, have passed legislation allowing for digital registrar services and virtual signing witnessing keeping individuals secure throughout the epidemic. Because the precise rules will differ from state to state, it is critical to seek a local attorney familiar with the notarization and witness procedures for COVID-19.
Remote Notary and Witness Services
Several states in the U.S have allowed remote notary and witness services.
Every state has its own set of rules for drafting a Will or Trust. According to these regulations, a beneficiary must sign the agreement before at least two additional attendees, and the paperwork must be executed in front of a notary public. Due to COVID-19 limitations, this causes apparent problems.
As a result, several states have implemented legislation to relax this stringent criterion. Some states have passed rules allowing for the notarization of digitally legal papers using remote online notaries, but the signature must still be present in person before the notary. A witness can sign a form digitally while on a teleconference with the executor and the notary under similar regulations. These regulations serve to restrict interpersonal interaction while yet delivering vital legal assistance.
While several states have passed legislation that relaxes the registrar and witnesses criteria significantly, some have not. In many situations, an in-person visit is required for a Will or Trust to be legally binding.
Nonetheless, maintaining adequate social distance helps protect the community throughout these processes. A testimony is only required to be present in the room while the testator signs paperwork. Thus this individual might be as far away as six feet. A notary can also pick up documentation left on a table and stamp paperwork in the front of the testator without approaching close to them. Signing, testifying, and notarizing papers may be a safe procedure for everyone involved, with a few easy changes.
Most states advise us to stay apart from other people as much as possible. Nevertheless, this might present significant problems in cases where in-person visits are required, including the signing of Wills, Trusts, or other bequests papers. Thus, you should always consult trust litigation lawyers for digital notarization and witness.
Thankfully, several states have relaxed their requirements for notary stamps and witnesses. A registrar or witness may be able to certify the authenticity of an electronic signature or testify to the signature of documentation through video conference in some instances. This option, unfortunately, is not available universally. Consult an attorney to discover which regulations apply in your state and how to build an estate plan that is both safe and effective.