Executing Estate Planning Documents Outside of Attorney's Office
Occasionally clients will request, for one reason or another, that I mail them the originals of the estate planning documents I prepared for them so that they can have them executed outside of my office at a bank or some other financial institution.
I prefer to have the documents executed in my office for a variety of reasons, which include:
- I have the ability to make last minute client-requested additions or revisions to the documents. This can’t happen if the documents are executed outside of my office.
- I have the opportunity to review the documents with my clients before they sign them, as well as answer any questions they might have. I can’t do this if the documents are executed outside of my office.
- I don’t have to worry about:
- My clients accidentally forgetting to sign one or more of the documents.
- My clients failing to follow my instructions regarding the execution of the documents.
- Receiving the signed documents from my clients with pages missing or having food and/or coffee stains on them – this has actually happened on more than one occasion!
If I can’t talk my clients out of executing the documents outside of my office, I make sure that they are aware of the execution requirements for each document. I advise them that best practice dictates that there be two independent non-related witnesses for those documents that require witnesses, as well as an independent non-related notary public for those documents that require execution in front of a notary. Since a notary can serve as one of the witnesses, two independent non-related individuals, with one of them being a notary, need to be available for the execution of the documents. This, in many instances, is easier said than done because banks and other financial institutions may very well provide a notary, but typically will not allow an employee to be a witness.
Consequently, if you decide to have your estate planning documents executed outside of your lawyer’s office, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by making sure that you already have two independent non-related witnesses, one of whom is a notary public, lined up for the execution of those documents. If you just show up at a bank expecting those individuals to be made available to you, you could be in for a rude awakening. Oh and one more thing, please do not use your estate planning documents as a coaster for your coffee cup! Your attorney will be eternally grateful!
Due to the shock of the death of a spouse or a loved one, the steps of what needs to be done first can be an overwhelming process for the survivor(s). To aid in the breakdown and to act as a tool amidst the emotional days ahead, estate planning Jonathan "Jay" David has assembled a "Survivor's Checklist" of some of the important things that need to be addressed when a spouse or loved one dies.
COVID-19 Checklist & Elder Organizer Tool
For adult children responsible for their elderly parents and other senior caretakers concerned about protecting loved ones as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, below is a free downloadable checklist of steps to follow to prepare for any possible COVID-19-related illnesses among the most-vulnerable.
Foster Swift has created a free ‘Elder Organizer’ digital notebook to provide seniors and their caretakers with a toolkit that helps organize doctors’ appointments, medications, and more that can be shared online. The tools below are also available on the Elder Law Resources page.
*For those trying to access these links by smartphone, it is best practice to copy/open the link in a separate tab and download the free Google Sheets app from Google Play or the Apple Store.
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E-book Covers Estate Planning Essentials
Engaging in estate planning, while essential, is often emotional and generates many questions. How do I protect my spouse and my children if something happens to me? What happens if I become disabled before I pass on? Who will take care of my pet after I'm gone? How do I pass my business on to my children? These questions and more are addressed in Jonathan David’s recently updated e-book, “Estate Planning: You Have to Start in Order to Finish.”
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