Remote Signing During the COVID-19 Emergency
Written by Jim Worthington on March 31, 2020
On Monday, March 30, 2020, Governor Andy Beshear signed HB 150 to provide a variety of relief during the COVID-19 state of emergency. Section 1(11) of that Bill allows for remote signing and notarization in Kentucky. “Notwithstanding any state law to the contrary,” it is effective “during the state of emergency declared by the Governor in response to COVID-19 on March 6, 2020, by Executive Order 2020-215.” Section 1 (emphasis added).
For purposes of complying with any law, rule, order, or other requirement relating to the receipt of testimony or signature from any party or witness, or the acknowledgement or notarization of any document, for any legal purpose:
(a) Individuals, whether acting for themselves or in a representative capacity, not in the same physical location shall be considered in the presence of one another if the individuals can communicate via a video teleconference in real time to the same extent as if they were physically present in the same location; and
(b) Any document resulting from a video teleconference conducted in accordance with paragraph (a) of this subsection may be executed, acknowledged, or notarized in counterparts, which together shall be considered a single document;
Section 1(11) (emphasis added).
The use of words like “any,” “shall,” and “any legal document” show the broad reach of this new, temporary law.
Can We Sign Wills Remotely?
Will signings require the most formal ceremony. However, Section 11 is broad enough to cover those. A Kentucky will must be signed in “the presence of at least two (2) credible witnesses, who shall subscribe the will with their names in the presence of the testator, and in the presence of each other.” KRS 394.040 (emphasis added.) Section 1(11) uses the precise term “presence” and thus satisfies KRS 394.040.
The attestation should include a statement that the will was signed remotely and in counterparts. It would be prudent to have the client sign the will again after the social isolation period ends.