NYS Permits Remote Execution of Wills

Posted:  April 8, 2020

Last Updated:  July 8, 2020

On April 7, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.14, which, among other things, authorizes the act of witnessing certain New York estate planning documents utilizing audio-video technology.  This executive order was extended by Executive Order No. 202.28, issued on May 7, 2020, Executive Order 202.38, issued on June 6, 2020 and Executive Order 202.48, issued on July 6, 2020, and allows our estate planning attorneys to fully assist clients with their estate planning needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.  With remote witnessing permitted through this and prior executive orders, clients can execute a Last Will and Testament, a Statutory Short Form Power of Attorney (with gifting rider), Living Trusts, Living  Wills, Health Care Proxies and forms for an agent to control the disposition of remains.

The following conditions must be met in order to properly witness through audio-visual technology:

  • if the person whose signature is being witnessed is not personally known to the witness(es), they must present valid photo ID to the witness(es) DURING the video conference;
  • the video conference must allow for DIRECT INTERACTION between the person who is signing, the witness(es) and the supervising attorney (if applicable); and
  • the witness(es) must receive a legible copy of the signature page(s) on the same date that they are signed by the person (may be transmitted via fax or electronic means).

The witness(es) may sign the transmitted copy of the signature page(s) and transmit the same back to the person who signed, and the witnessing of the original signature page(s) may be repeated as of the date of execution provided that the witness(es) receive such original signature page(s) together with the electronically witnessed copies within thirty days after the date of execution.

This authorization is in effect until August 5, 2020.