Social Distancing and Estate Planning During the COVID-19 Crisis
The coronavirus has affected the entire world, and many people are changing their daily habits. You might be worried about the effect that social distancing could have on estate planning. However, there are a few things that you can do to keep up with your essential estate documents.
Estate Planning at Home
If you are concerned about heading over to an estate planning office or if the offices are closed, there are actions that you can take at home. While you cannot meet with your attorney face to face, you can still plan for your future. Many attorneys are working with their clients to create, update, and finalize their estates. You can plan your estate by telephone, email, or video conferencing. Your attorney can draft documents and send them to you for review. If you don’t want anything to be sent electronically, then these documents can be delivered by mail.
For those documents requiring a signature, you could sign the documents on your own. If you need witnesses for your signature, you can conduct an office meeting that adheres to the social distancing guidelines.
Social distancing is changing procedures in many estate planning offices. If the offices are open, there are strict health and safety guidelines, including limiting the number of people in the building. Those who must visit an office can take some precautions to keep themselves safe, including sanitizing their hands and wearing a mask. In some states, law firms are even offering drive-up services for wills. All attorneys are considering these issues on an individual basis. Many attorneys are getting creative to adhere to social distancing as they come up with solutions for handling estate planning.
Notarization Might Not Be Required
Notarization of estate planning documents is essential to the industry. With social distancing and COVID-19, there might be a few ways to work around these requirements. In some states, you can have two witnesses for your will without the need for a notary. However, you will need to prove that the will is valid. Once the social distancing guidelines are more relaxed, the witnesses can head to an office to sign an affidavit. For other documents, like a trust, you might not need a notarization signature for it to be considered valid. You can always speak to an experienced attorney if you are concerned about the validity of your estate planning documents.
Beware of Online Notarization
With social distancing in place, you might think that online platforms are the best options. However, only a few states recognize online notarization. In these states, online notarization is only available for some documents.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some states may allow for a temporary electronic notarization, including New Jersey. If you want to know more about the requirements, you should consult your estate planning litigation lawyer. Your lawyer will have all the latest information about online notarization in your area and can help you get your documents taken care of.
Social distancing is stopping the “business as usual” mentality in the estate planning field. However, when you work with a professional firm, you can find ways to update important documents and stay safe.
Speak to Your New Jersey Estate Planning Litigation Lawyer
During this time, you will want to speak to your attorney on how to proceed with estate planning. At the very least, you can start the planning process and finalize those necessary documents.
If you need help with estate planning during the pandemic, you want to find the right attorney for your situation. At the Knee Law Firm, LLC, we can help you move through the complicated process of estate planning. We know that this a difficult time for many and that planning your estate may be even more complicated recently. That’s why we’re taking the necessary steps to make sure you are safe during the planning process. Make sure to contact our Hackensack office at 201-996-1200 or visit the website for a free consultation with an estate planning litigation lawyer.