Signing Estate Planning Documents While Social Distancing

What are your Options? Electronic signatures? In person signings? Car signings?

For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of completing an estate plan to ensure we are prepared for the worst while hoping for the best.  The risk of illness may be a reminder that it’s time to draft a will or a power of attorney to make sure we are protected if we get sick. However, with social distancing being our new normal, this process may seem more difficult and daunting. Luckily, there are still ways to complete your estate planning, and even sign your documents, during this time. This article discusses some options for completing your estate plan while practicing social distancing.

How can you meet with an attorney to discuss your estate plan?

Social distancing has in some ways made meeting with an attorney easier. With the quick adoption of Zoom and other video conferencing options, you can now meet with an attorney without needing to take a trip downtown.

Here at Reed Longyear, we are still meeting with clients and able to schedule Zoom meetings to discuss your estate planning with an attorney. If you need to update your estate plan or begin a new estate plan feel free to reach out to us via email at and we can work with you to schedule a zoom meeting.

How can we sign estate planning documents during social distancing?

Estate planning documents still must be signed in person and require a notary and witnesses to be physically present. This, of course, presents difficulties when social distancing. However, there are still ways to sign estate planning documents while practicing proper social distancing. We do ask that you please consult your doctor prior to coming to an in-person signing appointment as there will always be some risk of transmission regardless of the precautionary measures taken. Below are three options available for signing your estate planning documents:

Option 1: Office Signing. Although our office is physically closed, we are still available on a limited basis to help you sign your documents in the lobby of our building if you have no other options to sign your documents. We are taking extra precautions in order to ensure social distancing such as asking you to bring your own pen, mask, hand wipes, and hand sanitizer. However, signing estate planning documents does require us to pass documents back and forth, thus creating the risk of transmission. If you wish to sign this way, we will arrange a time with you ahead of time and ask that you please:

  1. Reschedule if you are sick or have a fever.
  2. Bring your own pen.
  3. Wear a mask.
  4. Bring hand wipes or hand sanitizer.

Option 2: Vehicle Signing. A second option for signing your documents is to print your documents at home, drive to our office, park your car, and then sign your documents in your car while we witness from outside your vehicle. Once you have signed your documents, you can roll your window down and pass the documents out to us to complete the witnessing and notarization. We will then hold your documents in our will vault to reduce the risk of transmission. If you wish to sign this way, we will arrange a time with you ahead of time and ask that you please:

  1. Reschedule if you are sick or have a fever.
  2. Drive your vehicle to our office and park out front in street parking or in our garage. If you wish to park in our garage please notify us ahead of time so we can arrange for the parking assistants to direct you to a parking space.
  3. Bring your own pen.
  4. Wear a mask.
  5. Bring hand wipes or hand sanitizer.

Option 3: At home Signing. If you prefer not to leave your home, there are options for signing at home. As with the above options, this option will still present risk of transmission if you interact with people outside your home to have your documents signed. If you wish to sign from home you will need to find a notary (we recommend using travelling notaries) and find two witnesses who are not part of your family and who are not named in your estate plan. We will then send you detailed signing instructions for how to sign at home.

Electronic signatures are not allowed. Many people are wondering whether they can sign their estate planning documents electronically through DocuSign or have their documents witnessed remotely over Zoom or other live video meetings. Unfortunately, estate planning documents cannot be signed electronically through DocuSign and we cannot witness or notarize your documents over video. We are still required to meet in person to sign estate planning documents. Some new laws have been passed that appear to move us in the direction of being able to sign some estate planning documents such as powers of attorney remotely; however, due to some quirks to these laws, it does not appear that they allow us to use electronic notarization or witnessing at this time. As it is crucial that estate planning documents are properly signed, it is prudent to not risk using methods to sign that are legally uncertain.

Thus, we are still recommending that our clients sign all of their documents with a notary and witnesses physically present to ensure that the documents are valid and effective.

If you have any questions, please contact any member of our Estate Planning department, or email us at