Remote Witnessing of Estate Planning Documents Now Permitted in New York
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On March 19, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued an executive order that permits remote notarization. Today, April 7, he took that executive order one step further, allowing acts of witnessing estate planning documents required under New York State laws to be performed remotely. The Goetz Fitzpatrick Trusts & Estates group is fully prepared to assist clients with remote witnessing capabilities, subject to the following conditions outlined by the governor’s executive order:

    • The person requesting that their signature be witnessed, if not personally known to the witness(es), must present valid photo ID to the witness(es) during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after;
    • The video conference must allow for direct interaction between the person and the witness(es), and the supervising attorney, if applicable (e.g. no pre-recorded videos of the person signing);
    • The witnesses must receive a legible copy of the signature page(s), which may be transmitted via fax or electronic means, on the same date that the pages are signed by the person;
    • The witness(es) may sign the transmitted copy of the signature page(s) and transmit the same back to the person; and
    • The witness(es) may repeat the witnessing of the original signature page(s) as of the date of execution provided the witness(es) receive such original signature pages together with the electronically witnessed copies within thirty days after the date of execution. 

This temporary modification applies to the Estates Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL)  3-2.1(a)(2), EPTL 3-2.1(a)(4), Public Health Law 2981(2)(a), Public Health Law 4201(3), Article 9 of the Real Property Law, General Obligations Law 5-1514(9)(b), and EPTL 7-1.17.

In a guest blog posted by Judith Schwarz, PhD, RN, and the Clinical Director of the not-for-profit organization End of Life Choices New York, she emphasizes that ER doctors are not able to deal with end-of-life planning during this influx of patients, and planning for the future is more important now than ever.

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