The spread of COVID-19 has brought the frailties of life into sharper focus. Who will make medical decisions for you if you’re unable to? Will your family be able to access your financial accounts to pay your bills if you get sick? Will your spouse and children be provided for if you pass away?
While the world continues to face the spread of COVID-19, most places have temporarily shuttered their doors. The irony, of course, is that these uncertain times remind us that we should have our affairs in order, especially if the worst happens. Luckily, Indiana has adopted provisions that allow Jones Obenchain attorneys to continue serving our clients, and helping them answer those important questions.
The Indiana Supreme Court recognized the call for social distancing as a way to stop the spread of the virus. To that end, it has suspended the requirements of having the testator and two attesting witnesses to be physically present together when a will is executed. Instead, the testator and witnesses may come together through an electronic medium, such as Zoom or Skype, to sign the will. So you can safely sign a will while practicing social distancing!
The court’s order requires the will to contain specific language referencing the pandemic, the order, and that the normal requirements will be met within 90 days of the health emergency expiring. In other words, you will eventually have to sign the will in the presence of witnesses. But considering that this situation could last for several months, this is an excellent opportunity for clients to put the necessary documents in place to prepare for the worst.
Indiana’s remote-notary laws were also enacted. Originally, the new statutory provisions were supposed to be effective on July 1, 2020. But due to the pandemic, Indiana expedited the process. Any active Indiana notary may immediately apply to become a remote notary. A remote-notary authorization allows notaries to perform notarial functions via two-way audio-visual communication on an approved vendor platform, while signatures are captured on an electronic record. The state is currently vetting approved vendors, and should release them by the end of May. So Jones Obenchain’s notaries will soon be able to assist you safely and remotely.
We know the circumstances are challenging. Our attorneys and staff want to do anything we can to put your mind at ease. If you currently have any estate-planning needs, our office is still open to help you complete those tasks. Indiana’s new remote signing and notary provisions allow us to do that in a safe way.