Sunday, March 22, 2020

COVID-19 and Suspension of Physical Presence for the Execution of Legal Documents

Each day gets crazier and crazier on COVID-19's impact on our society, including in the estate planning world.  Under Iowa long-standing law (Iowa Code sec. 633.279), when an individual signs their will, it is required that they sign in the presence of two individuals.  This has been pretty strictly adhered to by Iowa courts in requiring the physical presence of the witnesses.

Today, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation suspending the requirement of physical presence of individuals witnessing the signing of wills and medical power of attorney documents provided that the signing takes place where the witnesses and individual can see and hear one another through electronic means, such as video conferencing.

The other portion of the proclamation deals with the remote notarization of documents.   Technically, Iowa's remote notary law wasn't scheduled to take effect until July 1, 2020 so the Governor's proclamation essentially "fast tracked" the implementation date.  This one is a little trickier as we don't have rules from the Iowa Secretary of State's office yet.  However, we are looking to get some additional guidance this week from their office.

Special thanks to Governor Reynolds and the Iowa Academy of Trust and Estate Counsel in getting this done expeditiously.

For all of those individuals that were "dying" to sign their Last Will and Testament, but didn't want to be in my physical presence, act now.  We can "Zoom" to you and get those signed.

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