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Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency

April 14, 2020

 

Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order relating to the current Covid-19 Disaster Emergency, effective April 7, 2020, relaxing the legal witness requirements for certain documents, and permitting the formal witnessing of many legal documents by remote means.  This means that certain estate planning documents (Health Care Proxies, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney) and various real estate documents (contracts of sale, closing documents, affidavits, title documents, agreements) can still be witnessed even in this day of social distancing and closed business offices.  This is good news for the elderly, the immuno-suppressed, and caregivers who are stuck at home but need to execute documents.

The content of the Governor’s Executive Order Number 202, which granted a Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency, is provided here:

For the purposes of Estates Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL)  3-2.1(a)(2), EPTL 3-2.1(a)(4), Public Health Law 2981(2)(a), Public Health Law 4201(3), Article 9 of the Real Property Law, General Obligations Law 5-1514(9)(b), and EPTL 7-1.17, the act of witnessing that is required under the aforementioned New York State laws is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that the following conditions are met:

  • The person requesting that their signature be witnessed, if not personally known to the witness(es), must present valid photo ID to the witness(es) during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after;
  • The video conference must allow for direct interaction between the person and the witness(es), and the supervising attorney, if applicable (e.g. no pre-recorded videos of the person signing);
  • The witnesses must receive a legible copy of the signature page(s), which may be transmitted via fax or electronic means, on the same date that the pages are signed by the person;
  • The witness(es) may sign the transmitted copy of the signature page(s) and transmit the same back to the person; and
  • The witness(es) may repeat the witnessing of the original signature page(s) as of the date of execution provided the witness(es) receive such original signature pages together with the electronically witnessed copies within thirty days after the date of execution. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. All information posted is general advice only, based upon the rules of NYS, and is not intended to be a substitute for personal legal advice. Although information provided here was accurate as of the date of posting, laws change frequently and rules in other jurisdictions may differ. Therefore, readers should not rely upon these postings but should consult an attorney to discuss their specific factual situation.

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