Creating an estate plan in 2019 looked a little bit like this: you and your spouse or partner, perhaps along with your adult children, would make an appointment at an Orange County estate planning lawyer’s office to go over your plans. A week or so later, you’d receive drafts of your documents in the mail or via email and review them to make sure everything is correct. A week or so after that, you’d return to the office and sign all of your documents in a room with the lawyer, at least two witnesses, and perhaps even a notary public.
Obviously, this is not the case in 2020 and the era of the coronavirus.
The demand for comprehensive estate plans is greater than previous years, as many people are confronting their mortality in the face of this global pandemic. Unfortunately, the landscape has changed as far as how people in the community can interact with their lawyer and get their estate plan completed.
In-person appointments have mostly been replaced with Zoom meetings, which may actually make it a lot easier for adult children who live all over the country attend the appointment with their parents. And while it might be a little harder to get a hold of those important financial documents needed for estate planning, many documents are now available online and can be emailed to your estate planning attorney to move the process along.
But what about when it comes time to sign your documents?
Fortunately, many states have relaxed the rules around witnesses and notarizations to comply with social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, but California isn’t one of them. Some states now allow remote witnessing of the Last Will and Testament, Living Will, and Power of Attorney documents, as well as real property deeds.
In California, there are options for remote signing with video conferencing, using a mobile notary and an affidavit under some circumstances. It’s important to discuss these options with an experienced estate planning attorney to learn what’s available to you and what will work best for your situation.
If you have any questions about setting up an estate plan right now, or if you’d like to have your existing estate plan reviewed in order to make sure it is set up properly for your situation, please contact our law firm at (949) 260-1400 to schedule a consultation with one of our Orange County estate planning lawyers.