‘Virtual Witnessing’ of Wills, Lifetime Trusts, Health Care Proxies and Durable Powers of Attorney Is Allowed in New York State Through May 7, 2020
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on April 7, 2020 issued Executive Order 202.14, which allows “virtual witnessing” of Wills in New York State subject to certain requirements and is effective immediately through May 7, 2020. The scope of this Executive Order extends beyond Wills, and applies as well to lifetime trusts, health care proxies and durable powers of attorney.
This Executive Order provides that for purposes of Wills, lifetime trusts and health care proxies, and for statutory gift riders to durable powers of attorney, the act of witnessing that is required under New York State law is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that the following conditions are met:
• The person requesting that their signature be witnessed, if not personally known to the witness(es), must present valid photo ID to the witness(es) during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after;
• The video conference must allow for direct interaction between the person and the witness(es), and the supervising attorney, if applicable (e.g., no pre-recorded videos of the person signing);
• The witnesses must receive a legible copy of the signature page(s), which may be transmitted via fax or electronic means, on the same date that the pages are signed by the person;
• The witness(es) may sign the transmitted copy of the signature page(s) and transmit the same back to the person; and
• The witness(es) may repeat the witnessing of the original signature page(s) as of the date of execution provided the witness(es) receive such original signature pages together with the electronically witnessed copies within 30 days after the date of execution.
This Executive Order follows Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.7, which was issued on March 19, 2020. Under Executive Order 202.7, “virtual notarization” (which can be done using FaceTime on a smartphone) can be effective provided that both the notary and the person whose signature is being notarized are both physically located in New York State and an electronic copy (including an image taken via a smartphone) is transmitted to the notary (including by email) on the same day that the virtual notarization occurs.
For More Information:
 Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.14 is set forth at the following link: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20214-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency.
 Please see our recent Stroock Special Bulletin in which we summarize the virtual notarization provisions of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.7. https://www.stroock.com/publication/governor-cuomo-authorizes-virtual-notarization-until-april-18/.
This Stroock publication offers general information and should not be taken or used as legal advice for specific situations, which depend on the evaluation of precise factual circumstances. Please note that Stroock does not undertake to update its publications after their publication date to reflect subsequent developments. This Stroock publication may contain attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.