(Originally posted via bclp.com.)
Global law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) today announced the launch of a new solution to help people impacted by COVID-19 precautions identify the bare minimum requirements needed for the execution of wills, trusts and powers of attorney, including which states allow electronic or remote notarization of these documents.
BCLP’s U.S. Private Client Group and Global Innovation Team, in collaboration with industry-leading AI no-code automation software developers Neota Logic, have created an online, easy-to-use solution allowing users to input the appropriate governing state law and estate planning documents they will be signing. Based on the information provided, users will receive a report outlining the basic signing requirements for each of those documents.
“While signing with the bare requirements would not be ‘best practice’ in the normal world, in the age of COVID-19, social distancing and quarantine may prevent people from being able to get documents signed in front of witnesses and a notary,” Private Client Partner Stephanie Moll said. “Sometimes, we may have to settle for the minimum requirement for execution, with the caveat that everyone should follow up with their estate planning attorney after things go back to ‘normal’ to see if they should re-execute any of their documents in a manner over and above these basic requirements.”
The need for a simpler approach to navigating these dynamic and confusing state-specific requirements became apparent to Moll when she began advising clients hospitalized for COVID-19. At the time, state laws required wet-ink signatures and witnesses or notaries to be physically present. Due to risk-prevention procedures in place at the hospital, this presented legal and practical challenges that required significant research to determine the necessary recourse. A simpler process was needed to provide clients with immediate guidance and clarity on these issues so they could focus on what matters – healing.
In response to Moll’s request, BCLP Innovation and Neota Logic worked with Private Client Associate Ashley Kennedy to replicate the required estate planning guidance for each state in the new solution. Kennedy’s in-depth survey was critical to the successful completion of the solution. As relevant laws and regulations are daily in a state of flux, this new solution provides users with direct access to current information.
The firm is addressing the many challenges COVID-19 presents and is assisting clients by providing broad resources across multiple practices and has established a COVID-19 / Coronavirus Legal Task Force to leverage experience across the firm for the benefit of clients.
“This is an unsettling time for everyone and we think this resource will be very useful in answering some basic questions at the outset,” Moll added. “Guidelines are changing rapidly and people must still make decisions in conjunction with their estate planning attorney, prior to finalizing a document.”