Remote Witnessing of Wills Temporarily Allowed in New York due to Coronavirus

The laws in New York formerly required people to be in the same room to sign or witness documents like wills, trusts and powers of attorney. On March 7th Governor Cuomo issued an expanded emergency order that enables us to get documents signed, witnessed and notarized 100% by video conference. No need for anyone to be "in person" to get those essential documents done. The Executive Order is in effect until May 7, 2020. With the Executive Order, the act of witnessing can now be performed remotely by virtual means, provided that the following requirements are met:


  • The will-maker, if not personally known to the witnesses, must present valid photo ID to the witnesses during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after;

  • The video conference must allow for direct interaction between the testator and the witnesses, and the supervising attorney, if applicable (e.g., no pre-recorded videos of the testator signing);

  • The witnesses must receive a legible copy of the signature pages, which may be transmitted via fax or electronic means, on the same date that the testator signs the Will;

  • The witnesses may sign the transmitted copy of the Will's signature pages and transmit the same back to the testator; and

The witnesses may repeat the witnessing of the original signature pages as of the date of execution provided the witnesses receive such original signature pages together with the electronically witnessed copies within thirty days after the date of execution.

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A trust is a device for controlling how assets are held and distributed. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable. A trust that is created during the lifetime of the person creating the trust (referred