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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 24, 2020

Even Though We Can't Meet in Person, We Can Put Estate Planning Documents in Place for You Immediately

Before COVID-19 and the resulting social-distancing mandate, trusts and estates attorneys would meet with clients, gather information, discuss their goals, and then prepare planning documents for review, including wills, revocable and irrevocable living trusts, health care proxies, living wills, and powers of attorney with statutory gifts rider and beneficiary designations. Then, we’d get together at our office or your home to sign them.

Now, during the “new normal” of COVID-19, we’ve had to quickly adapt our methods to accommodate our clients. Thanks to email and videoconferencing, we can still gather the necessary information, prepare the appropriate documents, and sign them—all without having to meet in person and risk possible exposure. Online tools are critical in communicating wishes, gathering information, reviewing documents, and even remotely signing estate planning documents.

Although an initial in-person meeting may be ideal in getting to know each other, videoconferencing—whether by Zoom, LifeSize, or FaceTime—is easy, efficient, and often a significantly better alternative than a telephone conference. Videoconferencing also allows attorneys to share documents, spreadsheets, and flow charts with our clients.

As previously discussed in our “COVID-19: NYS Relaxes Requirements for Signing Wills, Other Documents” alert, to make it possible for attorneys to remotely witness and notarize estate planning documents, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo issued two executive orders authorizing remote notarization and witnessing of these documents. The executive orders allowing remote notarization and witnessing of estate planning documents were implemented on an emergency basis and will expire at some point.  However, while they’re in effect, there is nothing in the way of putting estate planning in place immediately.

Barclay Damon’s trusts and estate attorneys are here to virtually assist you with all of your estate planning needs. This difficult time shouldn’t stop you from achieving the peace of mind that a well-articulated estate plan brings.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Karen Schaefer, Trusts & Estates Practice Area co-chair, at kschaefer@barclaydamon.com; David Luzon, partner, at dluzon@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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