Texas Governor’s New Order Will Help Lawyers Who Write Wills

“It will keep everyone safer,” Austin attorney Billl Pargaman said about Gov. Greg Abbott’s order allowing video-conferencing for notaries public for will signings. Reports Law.com

Many attorneys can do their work at home with no hitch, but some areas of the law have things that can only happen in person.

Attorneys who write wills for clients are one example.

They’ve been coming up with creative ways to help clients and keep themselves safe, since Texas law requires that a will have an real signature, two witnesses and an in-person notary public.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott might have eased this problem with an executive order issued Wednesday, allowing video conferencing for notaries public for the signing of wills and certain other trust and estate planning documents.

Click here to read the governor’s announcement

Wills, trusts and estate planning lawyers had advocated for that change since late March.

“The State of Texas is taking any action necessary to enforce social distancing and reduce the need for in-person contact throughout the COVID-19 response,” Abbott said in a statement. “These temporary suspensions provide flexibility in the notarization process for certain documents, and ensure Texans are able to stay home as much as possible to protect themselves and others from this virus.”

New York and Florida, and about a dozen other states, have done the same, according to Bill Pargaman, partner in Saunders Norval Pargaman & Atkins in Austin.

“In the appropriate circumstances, it will keep everyone safer,” Pargaman said, bringing up an example of a coronavirus patient needing to sign a will in a hospital, where nurses could witness but a notary would not want to go. “It’s a way to completely maintain the social distancing all our health authorities are encouraging us to maintain.”

Pargaman noted that people who sign their wills are still going to need to in-person witnesses. But he’s still pleased with Abbott’s order allowing video notaries.

“I wish it went further,” he said. “Many other states’ executive orders from their governors basically make them apply to all notarization, not just ones for the specified documents in this order.”

Source:  https://www.law.com/texaslawyer/2020/04/09/governors-new-order-will-help-texas-lawyers-who-write-wills/