The Law Offices of Michael Rada, LLC.
ESTATE PLAN SIGNING OPTIONS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
During this period of uncertainty due to Covid-19, the need for social distancing and stay-at-home, the following options are available for the signing of your documents. For everyone's safety, my law office is not scheduling in-office meetings at this time and is not scheduling any remote document signings.
OPTION 1: SELF-SERVICE “SOCIAL DISTANCING” OPTION
In this option, you will receive your final documents by US mail. Along with your documents you will receive detailed instructions on how to properly sign each document in your estate plan. Once you receive your documents, you will perform the following steps.
Carefully review the documents received and instructions provided.
Schedule a time and place when you, your two witnesses and a Notary can get together to execute your documents. (Note that a Notary is available at most banks, UPS Stores and Fedex/Kinko Stores - please call ahead to make an appointment. Also, Mobile Notaries may be available who will travel to your site for a fee - simply Google “mobile notary near me” to find possible notaries who provide this service.) Some people have arranged for everyone to meet in the client’s driveway, whereby all remain in their vehicles and use their own pens and pass the documents between each other. Also, I have heard of clients passing the documents through an open window or door as well.
While always practicing social distancing, but always within view of each other, and carefully following the instructions provided, the documents are signed, witnessed and notarized.
Once finished, the client keeps all of their documents in a safe place with their other important papers. The exception to this is a deed or Transfer on Death Instrument that must be recorded with the county. If your estate plan has one of these documents, an envelope will be provided for its return to our office for recording. Once the document is recorded, you will receive the original copy.
If you would like for my office to confirm that your documents are signed correctly, simply send to me (by email) photos or scans of your signature pages and I will confirm whether or not your documents have been properly executed. (this is an optional step, and not required.)
By using this option you agree that all documents must be signed correctly, as per the instructions that you will be provided, to ensure their validity, and that The Law Offices of Michael Rada cannot be held liable for mistakes made or failure to sign your documents.
OPTION 2: DELAY SIGNING UNTIL COVID-19 SITUATION CHANGES
Some clients still prefer that their documents are signed in the more traditional manner where you and your two witnesses meet at my office for the document signing. Currently, I am not scheduling these signings, however, hope to return to being able to provide this service again in the future. Unfortunately, at this time there is no way to predict when this option will again become available and do not expect to provide this service until mid 2021.
A NOTE ABOUT WITNESSES
In all cases, you are required to provide two witnesses that will observe and attest to the signing of your documents. Since I do not have staff, I am unable to provide witnesses.
The following information is important to keep in mind when selecting your witnesses:
In order to make your estate plan documents legally effective, Illinois law requires that the signing of the documents be witnessed by two “disinterested individuals.” These people must be over the age of 18, and not a recipient of any gifts or assets in the documents. It is best if the witnesses are individuals that know you who could attest in court to your mental well-being at the time of the signing of the documents if that were to ever come into question.
The following individuals should NOT be chosen as a witness for your estate planning documents:
Anyone under the age of 18.
Anyone who may profit or benefit from your estate plan and their relatives.
Anyone designated in your estate plan, for example as executor, trustee, Power of Attorney Agent.
Any family members, or spouses of family members.
Anyone who is directly involved in your direct care as a caretaker or medical professional.
Someone who is blind.
Someone who no longer possesses sound mental capacity.
The person who is notarizing your documents.
Unless a member of one of the above categories, witnesses can include friends, neighbors and co-workers. In addition, your witnesses can be strangers and individuals who are not acquaintances of yours. Your witnesses will not see or know of the contents of your estate plan documents and will only know the type of document that they are witnessing.
Updated: February, 2021
Valid until updated. (subject to change without notice.)