Late on Thursday evening, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed his 14th COVID-19-related Executive Order, making it much easier for individuals to execute estate planning and healthcare planning documents. By allowing remote witnessing and remote notarization, this order will allow people to make binding legal documents without having to congregate in groups and in doing so violate the current state and local rules and recommendations concerning social distancing. This is a game changer when it comes to conveniently and speedily implementing essential healthcare documents and estate planning paperwork.
Rather than having at least 4 individuals together simultaneously in the same room, this executive order permits notaries and witnesses to participate via “two-way audio-video communication technology” (i.e., video conference software such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts). The last several weeks have been challenging for Chicagoland attorneys and their clients as uncertainty about how to handle the formalities of a signing ceremony clashed with the responsibility to comply with policies designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. This order provides some much-needed clarity and simplicity.
Starting right now, it is easier than ever for Illinois residents to execute wills, living trusts, powers of attorney, and deeds, all of which are essential to proper estate planning. Most importantly given the current crisis, it simplifies the process for executing healthcare directives which will give clients peace of mind and the certainty that their healthcare and end-of-life wishes will be followed in the event of their incapacity.
Please note that there are very specific requirements that need to be fulfilled in order for a document to be properly notarized or witnessed remotely. The risks of an improperly-executed will, power of attorney, or healthcare directive are substantial. Speak with an experienced Chicagoland estate planning attorney today about getting your plan in place or up to date, and take advantage of the fact that this can now all be done without having to leave your home. COVID-19 estate planning presents unprecedented challenges for our families. Take advantage of these new rules to make a plan that addresses all of your family’s needs.