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Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

April 9, 2020

COVID 19: NYS Relaxes Requirements for Signing Wills, Other Documents

In further response to the COVID-19 emergency, on April 7, NYS Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.14, which greatly relaxed the formalities needed to sign a valid Will. This newest Executive Order allows a person to sign his or her Will before two witnesses who appear over videoconference as opposed to appearing “in person.”

Prior to this Order, a person was required to sign his or her Will in the physical presence of two witnesses in order for the Will to be valid. The witnesses did not have to sign at the same time, but the law required the person signing the Will to be exposed to two unrelated people, which was often impossible given the requirements of social distancing. In addition, appearing in person to act as a witness was not always safe.

Together with the former Executive Order No. 202.7 issued on March 18, 2020, which allows a notary to notarize a person’s signature over live video feed, clients are now able to sign their Wills, health care proxies, powers of attorneys, and deeds and trusts of all kinds in each other’s virtual presence as opposed to in person, eliminating the risk of infection.

These Executive Orders require that the videoconference be in real time and interactive so that the client, the witnesses, and the notary are able to communicate with each other. In addition, the Orders require that once the documents are signed by the client, they be faxed or emailed back to the attorney or notary.

We at Barclay Damon are well placed and ready to assist all of our clients with putting their estate plans into effect without putting their health at risk. We can help you download the computer applications needed to arrange the videoconferencing and oversee the virtual meeting for you. All you need is a computer.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Marcy Robinson Dembs, partner, at mdembs@barclaydamon.com, or another member of the firm’s Trusts & Estates Practice Area.

We also have a specific team of Barclay Damon attorneys who are actively working on assessing regulatory, legislative, and other governmental updates related to COVID-19 and who are prepared to assist clients. You can reach our COVID-19 Response Team at COVID-19ResponseTeam@barclaydamon.com.

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