Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Deeds & Estate Documents - Electronic Witnessing Now Permitted

Through Executive Order 202.14 and effective from April 7, 2020 to May 7, 2020, the act of witnessing as required in signing a will, healthcare proxy, disposition of remains, recording of instruments regarding real property, power of attorney and living trusts may now be done through audio-video technology.

To do so, the following requirements must be satisfied:
  • The person requesting that their signature be witnessed, if not personally known to the witness(es), must present valid photo ID to the witness(es) during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after;
  • The video conference must allow for direct interaction between the person and the witness(es), and the supervising attorney, if applicable (e.g. no pre-recorded videos of the person signing);
  • The witnesses must receive a legible copy of the signature page(s), which may be transmitted via fax or electronic means, on the same date that the pages are signed by the person;
  • The witness(es) may sign the transmitted copy of the signature page(s) and transmit the same back to the person; and
  • The witness(es) may repeat the witnessing of the original signature page(s) as of the date of execution provided the witness(es) receive such original signature pages together with the electronically witnessed copies within thirty days after the date of execution.

Similarly, video notarization has been permitted since March 19, 2020 through Executive Order 202.7, which we blogged about HERE.

This is one major step closer to remote real estate closings and estate planning.

Now, the NYS legislature needs to make this permanent and not let Coronavirus innovation be a wasted opportunity.


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