Axley-Waukesha Implements Minimum Contact Estate Planning Signings in Response to COVID-19

April 29, 2020

Now more than ever people need assurance that their estate plans are current. In an uncertain health environment, how do you make sure that the essentials of your estate plan are taken care of? And how do you prepare, update or sign your documents without risking your health? With the recent extension of Governor Evers’ Safer at Home Order through May 26, Axley’s Waukesha office is implementing a COVID-19 protocol to minimize risk for our clients during the final stages of the estate planning process. If you would like more information about the estate planning process and documents, please see our articles:

Preparing for the Signing

In order for an estate plan and supporting documents to be valid and enforceable, they must be signed in-person with a notary and witnesses present. The goal of the new Axley signing protocol at our Waukesha office is to reduce unnecessary contact and prevent the potential spread of COVID-19. In preparation for the signing, you will work with Axley Attorneys to answer all of your estate planning questions and finalize necessary documents.  These meetings can be done via phone, email, or video conference. Once you confirm in writing that the documents are satisfactory, you will schedule a signing date and time.   Before the signing, you will also discuss what documents will be returned at the signing and what documents will be mailed to you later.

At the Signing

Masks and gloves will be worn by the attorney and witnesses for the duration of the meeting. You should be prepared to bring the following:

  1. Black pen(s); and
  2. Gloves and masks as necessary, for you and your guests.

Please remember: be sure to have all your estate planning questions answered in advance to help the signing go as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

Depending on the weather, there are two options as to how to conduct the signing:

Outdoor Signing

If the weather permits, estate planning signings will be conducted outside, near the front entrance of the office. A table will be set up outside with tape on the ground to indicate a six-foot distance from those at the other side of the table. The estate planning documents will be attached to a clipboard with flags indicating where you need to sign. The documents can either be left on one side of the table prior to your arrival, or the documents can be slid across the table to you once you arrive – all while maintaining a six-foot distance. The attorney and the witnesses will then witness each signature without risking potential exposure. Once you have signed all of the documents, the attorney and the witnesses take the documents inside the office to be signed and notarized. The documents will also be scanned and any copies made.

Indoor Signing

If the weather does not permit an outdoor signing, we will have a table temporarily set up in the vestibule with all four doors propped open so people do not need to touch the doors. The documents may either be left on one side of the table prior to your arrival or the documents can be slid across the table to you once you arrive. At the vestibule table, you will sign all your documents. The attorney and witnesses will witness the signing behind the reception desk from a distance of six feet. Once you have signed your documents, you are free to leave and the attorney and witness with sign and notarize documents as necessary.

After the Signing

Whether your signing is indoor or outdoor, you will be free to leave once the documents have all been signed and notarized.   Our preference is to mail to you later any documents that you do not need immediately after the signing.  If you have arranged in advance to take any documents with you on the day of the signing, please allow extra time for those documents to be scanned, copied, and packaged for you.  We are more than happy to send electronic copies of all executed documents on the day of the signing, and return the physical copies later.

Interested in Updating or Creating an Estate Plan?

Whether you need to update an existing estate plan or create one from scratch, our attorneys are here to help. Our office has all the technology needed to work with you virtually on the details of your plan. If you have any questions or concerns about the process, please reach out to us.