U.S. News & World Report Interviews Andrea Chomakos on Estate Planning During COVID-19

April 24, 2020

McGuireWoods Charlotte partner Andrea Chomakos was quoted in an April 10, 2020, U.S. News & World Report article on the estate planning industry boom during the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of executing documents while maintaining social distancing.

According to Chomakos, wills in the United States almost universally require two witnesses, and a healthcare power of attorney document generally requires two witnesses who are not related to the individual — which is a major issue when so many Americans are practicing social distancing.

Because North Carolina does not allow remote online notarization, Chomakos in two recent instances had to find creative ways for her clients to sign their wills. Her solution was to make use of the state’s law permitting individuals to transcribe or write their own wills and sign them without witnesses or notarization.

Chomakos said there still remains the concern that wills notarized remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic could be litigated. She added that the number of people trying to get estate planning documents signed is placing stress on offices working to fulfill their clients' requests while following safety guidelines.

“Many people who have put off their estate planning documents now have a sense of urgency,” she said. “It reiterates that these are incredibly important matters.”

McGuireWoods lawyers, including Chomakos, discussed legislative and executive orders issued by states to address remote notarization in an April 6, 2020, client alert, “Proving a Real Signature in a Surreal World: Notarization Concerns in a Pandemic,” and in a second alert on April 15, 2020.

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