The SafeEstates Blog

Celebrating Our Independence and Adjusting to the Velocity of Change

Our nation marks its 244th birthday this month. Recently much has been said about prejudice, injustice, immorality, hatred and selfish ambition in America. It may feel like America has made huge social justice changes for good over the past 5, 10, or 55 years. If may feel like the velocity of change is too slow. I hope you will take time on July 4 to reflect on the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control you see in other Americans. As Paul the apostle points out, “against such things there is no law.”

How are you doing after several months of travel restrictions and social distancing? Was it hard to adjust to new social boundaries? Have you learned to adapt, meet by videoconferencing, and work remotely? Did you find yourself surrounded by opportunities you had been missing? Did your personal dress code become more and more casual, and do you think you will wear ever again those “dress up” clothes hanging in your closet?

During the global pandemic we have been asked if wills and other estate planning documents can be signed by DocuSign e-signature. DocuSign is widely used for real estate, business and consumer contracts. At present, DocuSign is not designed for estate planning documents requiring witnesses and notarization. We are exploring ways to use DocuSign when we can.

We are grateful for several helpful innovations. First, our state courts began moving toward e-filing before the global pandemic arrived. Paperless court files feel “normal” already.

Second, our state courts suspended notarization on court documents. Clients and estate beneficiaries can sign affidavits and other probate court documents “under penalty of perjury” without leaving home.

Third, Governor Lee by executive order authorized remote notarization and witnessing of documents (specifically wills, trusts, powers of attorney, deeds and other documents) by video conference. If our clients know how to Zoom, they can sign their estate planning documents in the safety of their homes. The finished product is a valid, fully hand-executed paper document.

We do not know whether these innovations will continue after the global pandemic ends. Like it or not, we expect the velocity of change will continue. Let’s work together to change for good.

~ Randy Hooper