In our previous post, we asked five questions pertinent to reviewing your estate plan in the wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Click here to read this post. We asked, “When was the last time your documents were updated?”

Given the state of the world, it is important to be sure that your wishes are fulfilled should something happen to you.  But what if your Will does not reflect your current situation, or does not fulfill your wishes?

When updating your Will, there are specific requirements for how it should be signed. For a Will to be easily admitted to probate, it should be signed in front of two disinterested witnesses over the age of eighteen.  Additionally, the testator (the person signing the will) must sign an acknowledgment, and the witnesses must sign an affidavit. Both the acknowledgment and affidavit must be notarized in order to admit a Will to Probate without additional verifications.

By now you are thinking, “How will I be able to sign my Will in front of a notary while keeping myself safe from Coronavirus?”

Thankfully, members of the PA House of Representatives introduced House Bill 2370 that will allow notaries to electronically notarize documents when a signer appears via real-time audio-video communication.  This will allow PA notaries to video conference with clients who would like to sign new Wills, but also maintain a safe distance from others. Our sources tell us that HB2370 will be voted on in the coming days, and we will update this post as more information becomes available.

Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky is committed to serving our community through these hard times. We are fully equipped to assist current and new clients with updating their Wills, or other estate planning documents via electronic means. If HB2370 is passed, we will also be able to facilitate the final signing of client documents via video conferencing software.  Please contact Nicolas Sasso today to discuss your Will and Estate Planning needs at nsasso@smgglaw.com or (412) 227-0278.

*Drafted in conjunction with Matthew R. Cipriani, Paralegal.

  1. Where are your documents?

Locate your estate planning documents including your Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Healthcare Powers of Attorney/Living Wills. Be sure that you know exactly where your original documents are, and that you can access them in case of an emergency.

  1. Who has access to these documents?

Make sure your loved ones have access to these documents in case of an emergency. Consider giving copies of you Powers of Attorney to the agents named in the document. Also consider giving a copy of your Healthcare Powers of Attorney/Living Wills to your regular physician.

  1. When was the last time your documents were updated?

We recommend a review of your estate plan every five to seven years. Laws on proper form and execution of these documents can change. Be sure that your documents are current with today’s standards.

  1. Do these documents reflect your wishes and current life situation?

We get married, have kids, and our lives are constantly changing. Sometimes we even get divorced.  It is best to revisit your estate plan periodically to be sure that your wishes are fulfilled and your loved ones are properly cared for.

  1. Have you updated your retirement plan and life insurance beneficiaries?

If you’re like most Americans, you have a retirement plan and/or life insurance policy with a beneficiary designation. This designation names who inherits your retirement account if something happens to you. Contact your financial advisor or company HR representative to update your beneficiary designations today. You may also need to consult with your attorney to ensure that your plan and policy beneficiary designation coincide with your estate plan.

If any of this seems confusing or overwhelming, or if you do not have an estate plan in place, please contact Nicolas Sasso at nsasso@smgglaw.com or (412) 281-5423 today for a consultation.