Estate Planning in New York During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Please note that since this blog article was published the emergency authorization allowing remote will signing has expired.

Many people are probably wondering how they can plan their affairs during the coronavirus pandemic while maintaining social distancing. Can I sign a will, heath care proxy, power of attorney and deed without visiting an attorney’s office?

The answer is yes provided you have a printer/scanner and are able to video conference/chat with a smart phone or laptop/PC.

In New York State a will must be signed by the testator (the person who is making the will) before two witnesses who will sign an acknowledgement clause below the testator’s signature. The witnesses should not be beneficiaries under the will. It is common practice for the witnesses to also sign what is commonly referred to as a “self proving” affidavit which while not absolutely necessary, simplifies the probate process.

After a telephone consultation with your attorney, he/she can prepare your will and email a copy to you. You can then print and sign your will before two witnesses. Your attorney can also notarize the self proving affidavit remotely as set forth in the Governor’s order allowing remote notarization.

Refer to my prior blog post regarding the requirements for remote notarization.

Likewise your health care proxy can be prepared and emailed to you which you can also print and sign before two witnesses. A power of attorney prepared by your attorney can also be signed and remotely notarized.

If you have been considering adding someone to the title of your home, the deed and transfer documents can be emailed to you and remotely notarized. You can scan and email PDFs of the signed and notarized documents to your attorney who can then record your deed electronically with the Office of the City Register provided your property is within the counties of Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn or the Bronx.

Despite our need to maintain social distancing there are ways your attorney can assist you in these matters in a manner that keeps us all safe.

Please feel free to call us at (718) 229-1505 for a free telephone consultation.

About George H. Dippel, Attorney at Law

George H. Dippel has been practicing law for over 30 years. He is a graduate of Cornell Law School and a former partner at the law firm of Rivkin Radler in their real estate/banking department. Mr. Dippel opened his own law offices in 1993 in Bayside, Queens, New York. Mr. Dippel has assisted thousands of clients throughout Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island, Long Island and Westchester with their wills, probate, trusts, real estate and business matters. In addition to practicing law, Mr. Dippel has taught real estate courses in Long Island University’s paralegal program. He is also a licensed real estate instructor and has taught real estate licensing courses in the New York Metropolitan area. Mr. Dippel is admitted to practice in all New York State Courts and the Federal Eastern and Southern District Courts.
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