Planning for Life

We're Reemerging, Carefully

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on June 1, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


With Governor Baker's partial easing of the stay-at-home order, we are reopening our Wellesley office with a skeletal crew. Here's how it will work:

  1. Limited Staffing. No more than a quarter of our staff will be in the office at the same time.
  2. Face masks. Whenever anyone is outside of their office or workstation, they will wear face masks.
  3. Social Distancing. No adjacent workstations will be occupied at the same time.
  4. Disinfecting. There will be a lot of sanitizing and hand washing going on.
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Topics: coronavirus, document execution

Remote Notarization Law Now Available in Massachusetts

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 28, 2020

By Laura Goodman and Harry S. Margolis


Last week, the Massachusetts legislature (finally) passed legislation permitting the remote notarization and witnessing of legal documents during the pandemic—the 45th of 50 states to take this step, and Governor Baker signed the bill into law on Monday, April 27th.

Provisions and requirements of the Remote Notarization Law

While we can now execute wills and other documents remotely, the legislation doesn't make it easy. Here are its main provisions and requirements:

  • The law only lasts until three days after the end of the state of emergency, which is now May 18th.
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Topics: Estate Planning, coronavirus, document execution

Why Don't We Have Virtual Notarization Yet? (Actually, now we do)

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 21, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


Editor's Note: April 23rd, the Massachusetts legislature (finally) passed a bill to permit remote notarization and witnessing of legal documents during the coronavirus pandemic—the 45th of the 50 states to take this step. It didn’t happen without a bit of last minute drama. The Senate passed its bill on Tuesday, April 21st. On Thursday, the House passed a similar bill, but added the requirement that all remote document execution sessions be recorded and the recording saved for 10 years. Fortunately, the Senate then quickly approved the House’s version of the bill. Now we just await Gov. Baker’s signature.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, a bill to allow online notarization and witnessing of documents during the shutdown has been wending its slow way through the Massachusetts legislature. It was first slowed down by different constituencies seeking tweaks in the law. The first proposal only permitted attorneys and paralegals to do online notarizations, but a revised bill expands this to non-attorney or paralegal notaries. As reported in The Boston Globe, it has the support of a wide constituency, including lawyers, the real estate industry, and investment companies, such as Fidelity. But still the bill languishes.

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Topics: coronavirus, document execution

Estate Planning in the Time of Coronavirus

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on April 14, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


As reported in The Sunday Boston Globe, the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic along with either isolation at home or the need for essential workers to go out and risk becoming infected has prompted many Massachusetts residents to consider planning estates for the first time or to complete plans they may have started but let slide several years ago.

We've seen this as well, especially among doctors and other health care professionals on the front line who feel an increased urgency to get their plans in place. The difficulty in these cases is witnessing and notarizing estate planning instruments while maintaining proper social distancing. I described how we've done this in an earlier blog post.

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Topics: Estate Planning, will, coronavirus, document execution

Document Execution in the Time of Coronavirus

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on March 31, 2020

By Harry S. Margolis


Those who are fortunate can continue to work virtually during the coronavirus shutdown. Lawyers are largely in that group. We can continue to communicate, draft documents, file papers in court or at the registry of deeds, and even hold some court hearings telephonically. Of course, a conference call or even a videoconference does not have the immediacy of an in-person meeting, but it's possible to keep moving forward.

One challenge for estate planning attorneys is how to assist clients with executing their documents, which we had almost always done in person in the past. Here are a few solutions or "work arounds" we've come up with so far:

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Topics: will in massachusetts, durable power of attorney, health care proxy, document execution

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