Getting an Estate Plan in TX During the Era of Social Distancing

During these unprecedented times, it can be difficult not to panic when thinking about the possibility of contracting coronavirus. These COVID-19 fears, which are particularly prevalent among older adults, have forced many to think about the inevitable.

The era of social distancing, quarantine, and isolation has reminded many Americans about their mortality, which is evident from the ever-rising demand for wills and estate planning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yes, many Americans have turned to estate planning during these times of uncertainty. How do you get an estate plan in the era of social distancing, when nothing seems to work, and everything is closed? To answer this question, you need to understand the following:

You Need an Estate Plan More Than Ever

Currently, only about 37% of Americans have a will. However, the coronavirus pandemic is likely to substantially increase that number because it is forcing many people to think about death, as tragic as it may sound. If you already have a plan, the pandemic is a good reason to update your documents. If you do not have a plan, you should not postpone drafting one.

You can Dedicate Your Spare Time to Estate Planning

During the coronavirus lockdown, many of us have more spare time than we could hope for. You should dedicate this time to something you have been putting on a back burner, like getting your estate planning documents in order.

Most Estate Planning can be Done at Home

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of estate planning work can be done without even having to leave your home. Many attorneys, including our estate planning attorneys at John Powell III, P.C., can assist you with creating, updating, and finalizing your estate plan at home. Our attorneys work remotely and can help draft and review your documents via email, phone, and video conference. After the will drafting process, we can deliver the documents to you by mail.

Do Not Use Online Estate Planning Platforms

Online estate planning platforms and tools are booming in the era of social distancing. However, the problem with these platforms is that any do-it-yourself wills and trusts created using their services may be deemed invalid or may not meet your state’s legal requirements. 

Signing Your Documents is Not a Problem

Depending on your particular circumstances, it may be appropriate to sign your estate planning documents at your home or in the attorney’s office while following the appropriate recommendations for social distancing and taking other safety precautions.

You Do Not Necessarily Need to Notarize Your Will

Many states do not require the notarization of wills to prevent will contests or estate disputes. In Texas, you do not need to have your will notarized to make it valid and legally-binding. However, Texas also allows you to make your will “self-proving.” In that case, you will have to notarize your will.

Yes, You May Need to Notarize Your Trust

While some states do not require the notarization of trusts, Texas still requires the settlor’s signature to be notarized. However, going to a notary may be impossible or problematic during the COVID-19 lockdown, which is why you may want to utilize a mobile notary or sign the trust without a notary’s acknowledgement. In the latter case, your attorney will prepare an affidavit indicating that it was signed without the notary’s acknowledgement due to the pandemic, which qualifies as an emergency condition. 

You do Not Necessarily Need to Meet with a TX Attorney to Sign Documents

When drafting an estate plan in Texas, you may be able to sign documents on your own. Ask your attorney to send you instructions on how to sign your documents in the absence of your attorney. However, you may need witnesses to watch you sign the documents. 

Contact our Pearland estate planning attorneys at John Powell III, P.C., to determine how you should prepare, create, and sign your estate planning documents during the coronavirus pandemic. Schedule your initial consultation by calling at 832-850-6095 or complete this contact form.