In a recent interview, Guy B. Garner, Senior Attorney at Haiman Hogue PLLC in Arlington, TX, explained the possibilities of getting financial affairs in order during the coronavirus pandemic. —
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When asked to comment, he said, “The uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has led many people to consider what would happen to their property and assets if they were to become ill. The upside here is that it’s still possible to set up or finalize an estate plan during the pandemic.”
One of the reasons that creating an estate plan is still possible during the pandemic is because much of the planning can be done remotely from home, according to Garner.
“While meeting your attorney in person might not be possible, what is possible is crafting, making revisions to, or finalizing an estate plan from home. You can do this through video or phone calls with the help of an attorney.”
However, not everything can be done remotely, such as signing a will, which often necessitates an in-person meeting at a lawyer’s office.
“Obviously, if you’re in quarantine or self-isolation, you won’t be able to commit to an in-person meeting. The good news is that there are other options at your disposal, such as ‘emergency notary powers’, which is something that many states have put into effect and allows for alternative ways of signing documentation during COVID-19,” he said.
“Now, it’s possible to sign certain types of documents through video conference or drive-up signings. Furthermore, there are also mobile notaries who use gloves and masks and can come to your house to get you to sign the necessary paperwork,” he added.
Garner was quick to add that in the state of Texas, attested wills must be signed by at least two credible witnesses in the presence of a notary.
“This means that you’ll need to make sure that both your witnesses are there if you were to have a mobile notary come to your place of residence. It’s also important to keep in mind that your witnesses could be neighbors or friends who are also social distancing,” Garner stated.
Due to operational changes resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, Garner further alluded to the fact that it’s important to consult with an estate planning attorney who can help lay out all the options on the table for the next step forward.
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