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Estate Planning, Probate And COVID-19 in Connecticut (Part Two)

As I noted in my previous post, Connecticut’s Governor, Ned Lamont, has issued a number of Executive Orders which affect the provision of legal services in Connecticut. My prior post involved the operation of the probate court system. That same Executive Order, 7K, also addressed the “remote notarization” of documents. Effective immediately and extending through June 23, 2020, notarial acts may be performed using an electronic device or process whereby a Notary Public may take an acknowledgment or oath while not being physically present with the signor. In other words, a Notary Public and Commissioner of the Superior Court (an attorney in good standing and admitted to practice law in Connecticut) may be present by video, observe the execution of the document, take the oath or acknowledgment of the signor and thereafter sign and affix his or her seal to the document. The conditions for such a procedure are as follows:

1. The signor must present satisfactory evidence of identity during the course of the video conference with the Notary, not prior to or after the video conference;
2. The video streaming service must be capable of recording the entire transaction and the recording must be retained by the Notary for not less than 10 years. It cannot be just audio; it must be both audio and video;
3. The signor must affirmatively represent during the process that she or he is physically located in Connecticut, at that moment;
4. The signor must then electronically transmit (by fax or email) a legible copy of the signed document, directly to the Notary, on the same date that it was signed;
5. The Notary may notarize the transmitted copy and send the same back to the signor by fax or other electronic means;
6. Thereafter, the Notary may repeat the notarization of the original signed document as of the date of execution, as long as it is received within 30 days after the date of execution;
7. If the document to be executed is a Last Will and Testament, only an attorney in good standing and admitted to practice in Connecticut, may remotely administer the self-proving affidavit portion of the will; and
8. If the documents relate to a real estate closing, only an attorney in good standing and admitted to practice in Connecticut, may remotely conduct the closing.

One note. . . the Order does not address witnesses. Generally, they must be present with the signor for the proper execution of a document. We must assume that witnesses must be present with the signor, at the time of the signing and that this Order only pertains to notarial acts.

As with everything these days, I’m certain that there will be more to come. Stay tuned. . . stay safe. . . stay healthy.

If you have any questions or if we can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me.