Estate planning in Buffalo during the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Ever since lockdown was imposed due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) earlier this year, the pandemic has continued to impede on normal flow of activities. People can no longer go to work as they used to or relate with others freely. Social distancing rules have been put in place. So, how easy is it now to get an estate planning lawyer to sit with you and carry our estate planning? How do you obtain the physical presence of witnesses and a notary public to witness your signature?

Possibly you had been procrastinating estate planning for years. But with the rising death toll due to coronavirus, you now see every reason why there’s no time to waste. Anything can happen at any time, and it is only proper you do estate planning as soon as possible to ensure your wishes will be honored when you die.

We are here to help

But you have absolutely nothing to worry about. Just as social distancing measures have been put in place to curtail the spread, we are happy to let you know we’ve also provided measures by which we can do estate planning remotely. Wherever you are in Buffalo, NY, we can assist you throughout your estate planning process via live video conferencing!

Yes, you can now do estate planning right from the comfort of your home while you talk with us through your screen. Coronavirus restrictions should not stop you from securing your financial future and that of your loved ones. You can start planning today even though you can’t go out to a law office. In as much as we want to help you plan towards your future and the inevitable, we also care about your safety. We do not wish to risk your health and those of your family.

Through phone calls, live chats, and video conferencing, we can give you all the help you need, guiding you towards estate planning that offers you the best benefits.

But we are not alone in this. The State of New York has availed provisions by which you can get your estate planning documents witnessed and notarized without the notary public’s physical presence.

Provisions the State of New York has made to enable estate planning during coronavirus

Remote witnessing

Legally, the signing of your will must be physically witnessed by at least two persons who must also sign to attest their presence. But due to Covid-19, of course, this became difficult. But the state governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order On April 7 to allow for remote witnessing for wills, trusts, healthcare proxies, and statutory gift riders. This means that your will can be witnessed by live video conferencing. All you need to do is connect with the witnesses, and they watch while you draft your document.

When drafting your will, your family members cannot be your witness if their names are in the will. So your witnesses have to be external parties, most likely outside your home.

Remote notarization

Notarization of a will in simple terms means making the will self-proving. An un-notarized will must be proven in court before its instructions are carried out, and this may take some time. But if you notarize your will—get your witnesses to take an oath before the notary public—then the will becomes self-proving.

This normally involves meeting with the notary public, doing all the oath and signatory. Obviously, the social distancing guidelines disrupt this activity.

On March 19, the governor gave another executive order to allow for remote notarization. Hence, you can now notarize your will, healthcare proxies, etc., remotely via live video. Simply connect with your witnesses and the notary public.

Note that your witnesses and notary public must be present in New York State throughout the live video conferencing, and they must provide a valid Identity Card to the notary. They also must send over a copy of the document in question to the notary the same day of signing it.

Tax and Probate Administration

Due to the coronavirus, courtrooms were closed. Therefore, to file a petition for probate became difficult. But the state of New York has allowed e-filing of the petition. Also, the statute of limitations concerning dates of filing the petition, the court hearing, and tax return form submission, among others, have been modified to allow for postponements.

The coronavirus pandemic is a glaring reminder of how transient life is and how spontaneously things can change. To be on the safe side, it is best to plan now. Get started by calling us today for a free consultation with an estate planning attorney in Buffalo. 

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content of this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this blog or contacting Morgan Legal Group.

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