Signing Estate Planning Documents During COVID


signing a contract

Wills, trusts, health care directives, powers of attorney, and legal guardian nominations are on many of our hearts and minds as COVID-19 compels us to face our own fragility and mortality.

It is not as if we did not know we would all die (or become incapacitated) one day, but within our current reality, that “one day” has become an ever more real possibility. And one way to feel more in control over what is happening out there is to make sure we all have our legal affairs in order at home. That way, if it does happen now, our families are not left with a big mess to clean up while they are grieving.

If you are trying to get your financial house in order right now, you may be just getting some basic documents in place. You may even be doing it yourself.

If that is the case, it is very important for you to know that the cost of a failed plan can be very high for the people you love. Plus if your documents are not properly signed, they will not work — period. End of story. And if your documents do not work, your family could be stuck in court or conflict, which is probably the exact thing you want to avoid by handling your estate planning now.

There are many ways that plans fail, but one of the worst ways we see is when someone starts a plan and does not get it signed properly. You do not want this to happen to your family, trust me. If you care enough about estate planning, you will want to make sure your plan will work when your family needs it.

That means you need to make sure your legal documents are actually signed and signed in the right way. Some legal documents require two witnesses and some require notarization; however, in today’s social-distancing reality, these signatures could be difficult to come by.


Some states, like Hawaii, have allowed remote notarization, while others have not. However, the new process is quite cumbersome. Among other things, it requires an audio and video recording of the signing plus the signed documents be faxed or emailed to the notary. In the context of estate plans, this could be hundreds of pages. What is even more troubling is that the notary then has a copy of your private documents. The remote notarization process is far from perfect.

While we understand you likely have a desire to get documents in place now, we also believe there is going to be a significant increase in conflict and litigation as a result of DIY estate planning documents and people not understanding proper signing procedures. Do not let that happen to the people you love. If you want to get your plan completed, do it while you still have time, but ensure all signing requirements are accomplished.

This article is a service of the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC, an estate planning law firm in Honolulu, Hawaii. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That is why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you have ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by contacting our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge. Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I am not your lawyer unless you have paid me for legal advice and we have a signed agreement. Therefore, all information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. You should contact an attorney trained to work with families on estate planning matters regarding your specific situation. Use of and access to this website or any of the email links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the Law Office of Keoni Souza, LLC, and any users or any other party.

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