Earlier today, Governor Brown issued executive order 20-12 entitled “Stay Home, Save Lives,” in an effort to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19. The order took effect immediately after signing, and remains in effect until terminated by the governor.
The order directs individuals to remain in theirs homes to the extent possible. When individuals need to leave their homes they are required to maintain social distancing of six feet from any non-household member.
In addition, certain businesses like gyms and spas that cannot avoid close personal contact are required to close. Businesses like our office have been required to “facilitate telework and work-at-home by employees, to the maximum extent possible.” As a result, we have closed our physical doors to the public while this order remains in effect. However, our attorneys and support staff are all working remotely to continue to meet your needs.
Estate Plans and the Stay at Home Mandate
While most of our work can be completed remotely, the signing of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance directives all need to be done in person due to the various signing requirements for each document.
To have a valid will, the document needs to be signed in the presence of two witnesses and a notary. A trust on the other hand, simply needs to be notarized. While some states allow for remote notarization of documents, Oregon is unfortunately not one of them. This means that the notary must be physically present to watch the person sign.
We understand that you may be anxious to complete your estate plan during this uncertain time, and want to do everything we can to put your mind at ease. As a result, we are still taking on new estate planning clients and have two options available for signing your estate plan.
We will continue to have our office available for limited in-person signings. These meetings will be restricted to only the person signing and will be kept to a minimum length of time in order to limit exposure of our employees.
We will wipe down all surfaces with disinfectant before and after each meeting to keep our office as clean as possible, and will comply with strict social distancing protocol. We will continue to have this option available as long as possible.
We will send you your documents in ready-to-print format with instructions to sign in front of a notary and witnesses of your choosing. Your attorney will be available via phone call or videoconference to make sure the documents are executed properly. We are happy to help our clients facilitate this option by helping find mobile notaries or alternative signing locations.
If you have any questions about these protocols, please reach out to our estate planning partner Mark Ropp.