After You Wash Your Hands Take Back Control

In recent weeks, our office has received calls from people we have not heard from in 15 years. People are worried. One recent call was from a relatively healthy 83-year-old longtime client, who said he wanted to make sure his living will clearly stated not be hooked up to a ventilator with no room for misinterpretation. People are scared and need more control. As a result, we have completed more urgent estate planning in the past month than we have done in the past decade.

We have told clients the best course of action during these types of discussions is to review everything simply to provide peace of mind.  So far, for most clients, they already have everything in place (except for those with Springing Powers of Attorney, see below). So for many, after the review, no action is required and peace of mind is achieved.

For some clients, a Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Healthcare Proxy can be quickly and remotely prepared and executed.  Most states, including New Jersey, New York and Florida have recently adopted new laws for remote notarization of documents to allow remote estate planning.

The new laws allow notaries to notarize documents through electronic communications. There is no need to meet in person.  The laws allow clients to sign their estate planning documents at home or even in a hospital or a nursing home with an attorney watching through Facetime, Zoom, or any other video service. Many law firms, like ours, are offering video or phone consultations to comply with the social distancing measures. We email and mail documents to our clients.

While estate planning cannot prevent a healthcare crisis, it will ensure that you control who makes decisions. During these uneasy times, sometimes estate planning can offer clients the peace of mind and control we all desperately crave.