NC Legislature Approves Video Notarization & Witnessing!
Making 100% Remote Planning Available During this Crisis
Good news! On May 4, 2020, NC Governor Roy Cooper signed into law 2 Bills passed unanimously by the NC Legislature —House Bill 1043 and Senate Bill 704. The House Bill allocates nearly $1.6 billion in broad financial relief. The Senate Bill contains 70 pages of policy changes related to the COVID-19 Crisis.
As an estate planning attorney, I am very excited about 3 provisions in the Senate Bill:
§ 4.1.(c), EMERGENCY VIDEO NOTARIZATION;
§ 4.2.(a), EMERGENCY VIDEO WITNESSING; and
§ 4.10.(a)-(d), Elimination of Witnesses for HEALTH CARE POWERS OF ATTORNEY and ADVANCED DIRECTIVES.
Under longstanding NC law, a “self-proved” Will requires a notary and 2 disinterested witnesses to be physically present with the testator when he/she signs the Will. The first 2 emergency provisions above now make it possible for a Will to be witnessed remotely and authorize the notary to administer the oath and seal the document—all by video conference.
The third of the above emergency provisions allows clients to sign Health Care Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives (Living Wills) without the need for any witnesses. These important documents still require an acknowledgement by a notary but that can be done by video conference as discussed above.
Although the notary must meet stringent requirements, these emergency provisions will allow clients to prepare and sign these important documents from the safety of their homes.
Unless extended by the Legislature, the emergency provisions discussed above expire on August 1, 2020. However, all documents properly executed under these provisions will remain effective and do not need to be re-signed after the law expires.
In direct response to the emergency legislation and recognizing that for many folks, face-to-face meetings are far too risky , I have updated all of my estate planning documents to comply with the emergency video notarization requirements, including Wills, Health Care Powers, Living Wills, Financial Powers of Attorney and Revocable Trusts. I am successfully using video conference “meetings” to enable me to draft effective planning documents and with the emergency legislation passed by the NC Legislature, I can use video conference notarization/witnessing to notarize those documents for my clients.
Here is a summary of the requirements under the new Emergency Video Notarization statute: