This article is an update to Daniel R. Bernard’s April 10, 2020 article entitled, “Remote Execution of Estate Planning Documents During the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic”, wherein at the end of the article he stated that Executive Order No. 202.14, allowing for remote execution of estate planning documents, was only valid through May 7, 2020. Not only was Executive Order No. 202.14 extended on May 7, 2020, but it was extended again on June 6, 2020. Now, in Executive Order No. 202.48, issued on July 6, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended the provisions of Executive Order No. 202.14 that pertain to remote witnessing of estate planning documents again; giving New Yorkers the ability to execute their estate planning documents using “audio-video technology” for another 30 days, through August 5, 2020.
As a refresher, in order to execute your estate planning documents via video conference, you must follow the provisions set out in Executive Order No. 202.14, which are as follows:
- Establish a video conference using video conference software that you and your attorney feel comfortable using. I have personally used Zoom, FaceTime, Google Duo, Microsoft Teams, and Skype, for remote executions over the last few months and all have worked well. As a reminder, the video conference must be live, you cannot send a video to your witnesses of you executing your estate planning documents.
- Have two witnesses also appear on the video conference.
- If you do not personally know the witnesses, you must show your driver’s license or other government ID to the witnesses on the video conference.
- Execute the estate planning documents, as per your attorney’s instructions.
- You must electronically transmit the signature pages of your estate planning documents to the witnesses on the day that you sign them. If you have the ability to scan your documents, you can send them via email to the witnesses. If you and your witnesses have the ability to send and receive faxes, you can fax the signature pages. If all else fails, taking a picture on your phone and texting or emailing it to your witnesses will suffice.
- Your witnesses must then print and sign the signatures pages you sent them and send the signed pages back to you.
- Executive Order No. 202.14 also allows for your witnesses to sign your original estate planning documents, i.e. the one’s you signed on the video conference, as of the date you signed them, as long as you send the witnesses the original signature pages and the electronic copies within thirty days. So, the best practice would be, if you are comfortable with mailing the originals, to sign all of your documents and then mail them to your witnesses. Additionally, it is advisable to redo the execution of your estate planning documents once the novel coronavirus pandemic has ended and social distancing and self-quarantines are distant memories.
As stated in the original article in regard to the extension of the Executive Order, we do not know if Governor Cuomo will continue to extend the provisions of Executive Order No. 202.14 that pertain to remote execution of estate planning documents, beyond August 5, 2020. Each Executive Order that has extended Executive Order No. 202.14 has come on the final day for remote executions. Additionally, each successive Executive Order has not extended every provision of previous Executive Orders. Our firm’s office is back open and we are once again doing in person signings, however, if you would prefer to execute your estate planning documents remotely, it would be prudent to do so prior to August 5, 2020.
The estate planning attorneys at Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo have the ability to prepare and execute all estate planning documents remotely, and are available at your convenience, to meet via teleconference, FaceTime, Skype, or whatever other means you feel comfortable, to answer your questions, review your current estate plan to ensure it continues to meet your needs or to discuss the implementation of an estate plan, as well as to safely remotely execute your estate plan.
 Executive Order No. 202.28 extended the provisions of Executive Order No. 202.14 through June 6th.
 Executive Order No. 202.38 extended the provisions of Executive Order No. 202.14 through July 6th.