As Tiffany mentioned in her introductory post, during the summer months we will be addressing our recent professional experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Private Client Group has remained busy during these unprecedented times. From the estate planning side, we have experienced an influx of clients – both long-standing and new – who wish to review their estate plans and make changes as necessary (or create estate plans for the first time). The potential health consequences of the pandemic have resonated with many who wish to make sure that their affairs are in order and that their families are protected. For a number of individuals and families, this is their first time putting an estate plan in place.
Our attorneys have been scheduling remote communications utilizing both video and telephonic methods to review and discuss estate planning documents with clients. For clients who are then ready to sign, we have been working with them to facilitate an execution that best fits their current needs. For example, some clients have been able to go to financial institutions to have their documents witnessed and acknowledged. In these cases, we have provided clients with execution copies of documents and clear instructions with respect to how to properly execute the documents.
Other clients have preferred to take advantage of the emergency remote notarization legislation that Governor Charlie Baker signed into law in April of 2020. This law allows for the remote execution, witnessing, and notarization of documents under strict guidelines.
We have also had clients participate in “parking lot” signings where documents are reviewed and executed outside and under strict social distancing guidelines.
Finally, as the cases of COVID-19 continue to decrease in Massachusetts, some clients have preferred to review and sign their documents in our Boston office. For those clients who do wish to come into the office, our attorneys, witnesses and the clients themselves follow strict protocols with respect to entering the building and reviewing and signing documents in a location that allows for appropriate social distancing.
The health and safety of our clients is one of our top priorities. It is important to us that our clients feel safe and secure not only with the structure of their estate plan but with the process of creating the estate plan itself.