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The coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on, hamstringing the economy and sending thousands of Americans to the hospital every day. We previously discussed how this is a perfect time to take care of estate planning tasks that you may have been putting off. Times are uncertain, and things can take a turn for the worse in a heartbeat; it is much better to have your special needs plan prepared in the event you are no longer capable of making financial decisions. Even while most businesses are closed and individuals are subject to shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders, there are steps you can take to put your special needs plan into place.
Although most locales are subject to quarantine or shelter-in-place orders, many professionals are continuing their practice remotely from home offices. Thankfully, estate planning is a field that can be handled remotely, in large part. It may not be as convenient as having physical documents all together in one location, but there are many estate planning steps you can take even during the pandemic lockdowns.
Your attorney, your accountant, your money manager, your investment advisor, and any other member of your estate planning team is likely available for teleconferencing or video conferencing. Call your estate planning professionals to discuss their remote capabilities.
Many aspects of a comprehensive estate plan require documents to be notarized by a licensed Florida notary public. Establishing a will, a special needs trust, a durable power of attorney, or other legal mechanism may require a notary. It is not advisable to bring a notary to your home during the coronavirus pandemic, nor is it wise to go to a notary’s place of business, lest you risk spreading exposure to the coronavirus. There are, however, options.
As of January 1, 2020, the State of Florida recognizes online notaries. This means that a qualified, licensed online notary public can officially notarize a document via remote conference regardless of the physical presence of the principal, the witnesses, and the notary public. Florida’s electronic notary public law includes a host of requirements for becoming an online notary public and for effectuating a remote notarial act. Speak with your estate planning attorney about whether you need to retain a notary public for your special needs estate plan, how to locate a properly licensed online notary, and what you will need to get the documents notarized.
A special needs planning attorney can help protect your family, creating an estate and special needs plan tailored to your needs and situation. Reach out to the compassionate, detail-oriented, and level-headed West Palm Beach trust and estates attorneys Shalloway & Shalloway at 561-686-6200.