Coronavirus: Will Signing and Witnessing in New York During the Pandemic

By: Timothy Lynn

One issue that is likely to pop up for people affected by COVID-19 is getting their Last Will and Testament signed or updated. With mandatory quarantines for affected individuals, who are the people most in need of immediate assistance with their Wills, execution of a proper Will in accordance with EPTL 3-2.1 is almost impossible.

We had our first experience with that situation this week. In the midst of completing planning for a high-risk occupation individual, the person tested positive for coronavirus and entered a mandatory period of isolation. Fortunately, Governor Cuomo has provided an executive order to help deal with this situation.

As part of Executive Order 202.14, a substitute procedure is provided for remote witnessing of wills (to go along with the prior Executive Order 202.7 that allowed remote notarization). Although difficult to get the technology to work with a testator homebound and remote witnesses and notary, the procedures worked. Both our testator and witnesses were tech-savvy enough to perform their tasks.

Tim Lynn

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