Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, January 25, 2021

RPTE Advocates for Remote Ink Notarization and Remote Witnessing During the Pandemic

COVIDThe Covid-19 pandemic forced most if not all real estate and trust and estate attorneys to work from home and away from clients. Further, the elderly and others with health issues were advised to stay home and/or in shelter and to avoid face-to-face meetings. Due to the shelter-in-place, the standard practice of ink signatures and in-person witnesses before an in-person notary became nearly impossible to execute. 

This issue poses a conundrum because the people that are most at risk are the same people that are more in need of the execution of a will and other estate planning documents. In order to meet the legal needs of these people as well as attorneys and other clients, the legal industry had to evolve in a way that allowed clients to execute estate planning documents while also minimizing risks and danger. 

Since state law controls most of the requirements and standards for real estate and health and estate planning documents, "the executive committee of the section determined that RPTE should advocate that states adopt special rules and procedures for remote ink execution during the pandemic." 

These newly adopted rules would allow attorneys to serve clients that are or have family members that are susceptible to great risk to safely execute legal documents. The rules also provide protection to the attorneys with the same risk factor. 

Working with the ABA Governmental Affairs Office, RPTE leaders drafted a letter to be sent to state governors. The letter advocated for the issuance of executive orders and other types of legislation to allow for remote ink notarization and witnessing by other—simpler—means.

See Jo-Ann Marzullo, RPTE Advocates for Remote Ink Notarization and Remote Witnessing During the Pandemic, ABA: Probate & Property, Jan/Feb. 2021. 


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