Ohio extended its Stay at Home Order until at least May 1st. The global pandemic caused by Covid-19, also known as the Coronavirus, has heightened many clients’ interest in completing their wills and estate plans. I have received many questions from clients about the execution of estate planning documents while complying with the Stay at Home Order and social distancing requirements.
QUESTION: ARE YOU STILL TAKING ON NEW CLIENTS?
ANSWER: Yes. I am happy to accept new clients or work with existing clients who are interested in setting up or revising their estate plan. I am currently available to meet with clients virtually from the safety and convenience of their own home, while also complying with the orders from the State of Ohio, the City of Cincinnati, and Hamilton County.
QUESTION: WHAT IS REQUIRED TO EXECUTE A WILL IN OHIO?
ANSWER: Many states are working on electronic or remote signing laws. But in Ohio, the law today requires, “The will shall be signed at the end by testator…. The will shall be attested and subscribed in the conscious presence of the testator, by two or more competent witnesses, who saw the testator subscribe…. For purposes of this section, ‘conscious presence’ means within the range of any of the testator’s senses, excluding the sense of sight or sound that is senses by telephonic, electronic, or other distant communication.” R.C. 2197.03
QUESTION: WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS FOR DRAFTING AND WITNESSING WILLS DURING COVID-19
ANSWER: There are several steps in estate planning process.:
Initial meeting. For the first meeting, we can talk over the phone or use FaceTime or Zoom to host a video conference.
Information gathering. I use a detailed Estate Planning Questionnaire to help gather the necessary and relevant information. I will email or mail you my questionnaire, which can be completed as a fillable-PDF or you can handwrite the information. You can either email or mail the completed questionnaire back to me.
Document drafting. I will then take your information and complete a draft of the documents. I can securely email you the draft documents for your review.
Will signing. I will ensure that appropriate social distancing of at least 6 feet is used at all times. There are several options for the actual signing. For example, the clients may be on the other side of a glass door or window, in the safety and comfort of their own home. If a glass separation is not possible, we can meet on a driveway or front porch, place the documents in a central location, and essentially take turns signing. The client signs while the witnesses are a safe distance apart, then the clients steps back and the witnesses each safely sign.
QUESTION: WHAT OTHER DOCUMENTS ARE IMPORTANT?
ANSWER: A full estate plan is more than a simple will. Depending on your circumstances, it could also include a Revocable Living Trust. I recommend that everyone, no matter your family situation, should have the following in place:
Healthcare Power of Attorney: This allows you to select an agent to make and communicate healthcare decisions if you are not able to do so yourself.
Living Will: This works hand-in-hand with the Healthcare Power of Attorney, but largely involves end of life decisions. It allows you to instruct your agent about your specific desires and preferences.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney: This allows you to appoint an agent to help with your financial affairs, including paying your bills, managing your money, and talking to your banks and financial institutions.
QUESTION: HOW BEST TO CONTACT ME?
ANSWER: Like millions of other Americans, I am largely working remotely now. But I am available by phone or text at 513-815-7006, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact me to help with your planning needs.