New York State requires that wills be signed by at least two attesting witnesses. For the last month, as a direct effect of social distancing procedures, will signing ceremonies have been difficult, if not impossible, to do. That changed, however, when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 202.14 this week.
Through the Order, will signings now may be witnessed using audio-visual technology, such as Skype or Zoom, so long as certain conditions are met. Those conditions are: (1) the person signing (the "testator") the will must show valid photo identification to the witnesses during the video, if he or she is not personally known to the witnesses; (2) the testator, the witnesses, and any supervising attorney must be able to interact during the video; (3) the witnesses must receive, by fax or other electronic means, a legible copy of the will's signature page on the same day that the page is signed; (4) the witnesses may sign that copy of the signature page and send it back to the testator; and (5) the witnesses may re-witness the original signature page as of the date of execution, so long as they received the original signature page with the electronically witnessed copies no later than 30 days after the execution date.
"For the purposes of Estates Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) 3-2.1(a)(2), EPTL 3-2.1(a)(4), Public Health Law 2981(2)(a), Public Health Law 4201(3), Article 9 of the Real Property Law, General Obligations Law 5-1514(9)(b), and EPTL 7-1.17, the act of witnessing that is required under the aforementioned New York State laws is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology."