Transcription

Hello. I wanted to take this time to inform you on something that came across my e-mail last week. It’s something that I think might be effective, especially in this time of COVID-19 and social distancing. As you know, estate planning documents, most of them require us to go ahead and notarize those documents. Some require having a witness. Governor Abbott last week issued an executive order in which it suspends certain notary public requirements. These are temporary suspensions and temporary rules based on a response to COVID-19 and the emergency orders that are in place. I want to share with you kind of what the governor has done and then I’ll explain a little bit about how that affects all of us. In order for the conditions for a notary to be suspended (to be clear, the things we’re talking about is when you notarize a document, you have to sign it in front of a notary, the notary has to see you sign and has to confirm your identity…if you had anything notarized before, you’ll know that this requires for them to take your driver’s license…you’ll sign your name in the book and they’ll take your your information there) that’s been suspended – some of the portions of that are being suspended. So let me just talk about some of the things that are being suspended. One, a notary public shall verify the identity of a person signing a document at the time signatures are taken by using a two way video audio conference technology. What does that mean? Well, you could use Zoom. You could use some other video conferencing technology to show the identity of the person. How would you do this? The person who is going to sign would show their driver’s license on the camera and based on being able to confirm the face and the information there, would be able to confirm the identity of the person that’s going to sign. Next, the notary public may verify identity by personal knowledge of the signing person or analysis based on the signing person’s remote presentation of a government issued identification credential, including a passport or driver’s license that contains a signature and photograph. The first key thing that’s that’s not going to change is that you have to show your I.D. to the notary. That’s not going to change. It’s just how that identification is done. Next, the signing person shall transmit by fax or other electronic means, a legible copy of the signed document to the notary public who may notarized the transmitted copy and then transmit the notarized copy back to the signed person by fax or electronic means, at which point the notarization is valid. So what does that mean? Let’s put this together in a real transaction. If a person is going to sign a document in front of a notary, they need to get on a video chat platform like Zoom. They would need to confirm their identity without showing their I.D. Then, they would sign for the notary is watching them. Next, they would scan or fax the document to the notary. The notary would then seal it and sign it and fax or scan back the document. This would complete the notarization. So, the idea behind this was to allow for people to get their wills done, to get their their powers of attorney, medical powers of attorney, directive to physician…all of those really key and important documents to be finalized with a notary. Right now, with the current situation, with social distancing, people may not want to be around a stranger who’s a notary public. This may be a good option for some people. When we are talking about wills. It gets a little bit more complicated. Wills do not just require a notary. They also require for the will to be witnessed by two disinterested parties. The way my understanding is, the two witnesses have to be in the presence of the person signing the will. There may be some complications to be able to have two disinterested witnesses, two people who are not going to inherit anything in our current situation since we’re probably not going to be spending all of our time in a place where we are with a bunch of disinterested people or at least two other disinterested people that would help us in executing these documents. I think that’s going to lend a little bit of a problem in really making this work. On the plus side, law offices are still considered essential services. I firmly agree with that. You know, essential services to get your estate plan in order are very important. We are seeing clients. We are notarizing documents here in person. We’re exercising social distancing. We have our face masks. We’re cleaning our conference room every time somebody goes in and goes out. So, we’re practicing all the CDC requirements. If you want to get your estate plan completed, we can get it done. All you need to do is get started. I wanted to share this with you, these new options that are that are available from the Texas governor’s office. Hopefully we’ll be able to to get more documents wrapped up and finished. If not, like I said, we are able to get your documents notarized and completed. We just executed and estate plan on Monday. So we’re still open for business. We’re happy to set up an appointment for you. And if you have any questions about this or any estate planning, please feel free to reach out to me. You can reach out to me by email at jmd@dickersonlaw.com or reach us on our Facebook page or our LinkedIn or any other and any of the other platforms. We’re very responsive. I look forward to visiting with you soon. Take care.

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