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Over the past few months, life has changed dramatically for a majority of North Carolinians. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for individuals to have estate planning documents, including a will, durable powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, and advance directives, has become apparent. However, after Governor Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order went into effect on March 30, 2020, executing estate planning documents became difficult since an individual signing the documents is required to do so in front of witnesses and a notary. Most of the time, the signing requirements are accomplished by visiting the law office that drafted the estate planning documents.
To help alleviate this impediment and keep individuals safe, the North Carolina General Assembly passed, and the Governor signed, Senate Bill 704 to temporarily allow all notaries public to perform emergency video notarizations until August 1, 2020. Also, Senate Bill 704 allows for witnesses of documents to remotely witness a signature of a record through video conference technology. For estate planning documents, this means that individuals will be able to execute their documents without having to visit the law office and risk potentially catching COVID-19. For a notary public to notarize a document of a principal signer through video conference technology, the following must be adhered to:
In addition, some estate planning documents, like a will, require witnesses to be effective. Under Senate Bill 704, a witness to a document shall be considered to have signed such document in the presence of the principal signer IF the following are satisfied:
If you have been putting off estate planning during the COVID-19 pandemic due to in-person meetings and signings, the Senate Bill 704 will provide an opportunity to complete your documents without exposing yourself to the risk of COVID-19.
Andrew is a member of the firm's Trust and Estates practice area. He represents clients in matters involving estate planning, estate administration, and special needs law. Originally from Grand Haven, Michigan, Andrew attended the University of Michigan, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He earned his J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law....LEARN MORE