In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, many people are trying to complete their last will and testament and health care proxy. A valid execution of these documents in New York must be witnessed by two people, which has been an impediment in the current social distancing environment. By Executive Order No. 202.14, New York State has facilitated this process by authorizing the the witnessing of wills and other documents required to be witnessed to be accomplished by videoconference. The requirements are similar to notarization.
1. 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;
2. 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);
3. 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;
4. The witness(es) may sign the transmitted copy of the signature page(s) and transmit the same back to the person; and
5. 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.
This should help people in this stressful time to take care of these urgent matters. If you have any questions, you should speak with an attorney.