Let's imagine together that it's still 2019. You and your spouse or partner, maybe even along with adult children, make an appointment at an estate planning lawyer's office of your choice to discuss your plans.
A week or so later, you get your drafts in the mail or via email, you make sure everything's correct and a week after that, you go back to the office to sign everything with your lawyer and at least two witnesses, sometimes a notary public as well.
Now, we're back in 2020. And there's a global pandemic. And things have changed.
The demand we've seen for comprehensive plans has been greater than many previous years as people are forced to confront their mortality in the face of all that is going on. Because of COVID-19, our ability to interact with clients and get estate plans completed has changed radically.
In addition to in-person meetings, we're offering virtual meetings through GoTo Meeting, and it's allowing more adult children to be part of their parents' estate process even if they live somewhere else in the country. Getting important financial documents takes longer, but many are being put online and made available through email to attorneys.
At first, the biggest hurdle was figuring out how to finalize and sign the documents. Fortunately, many states have relaxed their rules about witnesses and notarizations to allow compliance with social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, and some states now allow remote witnessing of the Last Will and Testament, Living Will, and Power of Attorney as well as real property deeds. Some states allow a notary and signer to use video conferencing to electronically sign documents.
All of these rules most likely will not apply once the pandemic is over, and in some cases, you may even have to go back and re-sign once social distancing has been lifted. That's one reason why it's important to discuss your options with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Do you have more questions about creating your estate plan as soon as possible or have an existing plan in need of review? Contact Grunden Law Office at (260) 969-1177 or click here to schedule a consultation.