Urge the Massachusetts Legislature to Allow Remote Notarization during the COVID-19 Crisis

Facing heightened risks during the ongoing COVID-19 state of emergency, multiple nurses at Boston-area hospitals have called to ask if wills and other estate planning documents can be created quickly for them. While documents can be created quickly, Massachusetts’ requirements for self-proving wills require a physical presence of the individual (testator), two disinterested witnesses, and a notary to attest to all signatures. (Self-proving wills do not need the witnesses to authenticate the will after the testator’s death). During the current emergency, document signing is a problem because Social Distancing dictates that testators, disinterested witnesses, and estate attorneys not congregate in a way that would be conducive to witnessing signatures.

There are bills for Remote Notarization pending at the Massachusetts Legislature that, if enacted, would provide a solution (HD.4999, SD.2882 – An Act relative to remote notarization during COVID-19 state of emergency). The Legislature can and should act on these proposals to allow the use of video conferencing for remote notarization during the crisis. Enactment of these bills would, at no cost to the Commonwealth, allow estate planners to provide some comfort to healthcare workers, first responders, the elderly, and other at-risk populations who wish to effectively memorialize their final wishes.

Time is of the essence. Please contact your legislator and ask them to support Remote Notarization for the duration of the emergency. The links to the bills (HD.4999, SD.2882) provide a list of cosponsors. Our front-line healthcare workers and first responders, indeed all citizens of the Commonwealth, deserve this.

If you know a Massachusetts resident who has a need for estate planning, emergency or otherwise, please ask him or her to contact me directly.