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How to Handle Virtual Will Signing Ceremonies in Illinois with the COVID-19 Pandemic

Not long ago, it was necessary for people to appear in person when signing a will. However, like many things, COVID-19 has changed the way that things are done.

This is certainly true in the case of witnessing and notarizing documents related to estate planning. Today, you are far more likely to attend a virtual will signing than you are to attend one in person.

In March 2020, Executive Order 2020-14 was signed by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. Certain amendments were subsequently made, with the final result being that it is now possible to witness the execution of legal documents and even notarize those documents from remote locations.

In June 2020, SB 2135 was signed into law, making it easier to execute wills in a virtual session. Under the Illinois Notary Act, individuals are required to “appear before” a notary public. Thanks to the new law, an “appearance” can be completed with two-way audio-video communication through platforms like Zoom or Skype.

One of the requirements under the new law is that the notary must be physically within Illinois while performing the notarial act.

Similarly, witnesses may appear via two-way audio-video communication, and all witnesses and the person signing the will must be physically located within the State of Illinois during the process.

In Illinois, wills are frequently signed in the presence of two witnesses, though notarization is not required.

If you are anticipating signing a will in a virtual session, then it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the will and the technology you will be using before the virtual signing session begins.

If you haven’t used Zoom, Skype, or the chosen platform before, it’s wise to experiment with it in advance so that there are no technical difficulties. It’s sensible to check your computer’s camera, speakers, and microphone to ensure that they are working and compatible with the online platform.

The new law requires that the signing session be recorded and preserved for three years. Your attorney may take on responsibility for recording the session, but it would do no harm for you to also record the session yourself.

With a virtual will signing, it’s possible to move forward with critical estate planning documents even in the midst of a pandemic.

If you have more questions about having a virtual will signing or want to have a will drawn up, then contact Rincker Law at (217) 531-2179.

"This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. It is recommended that you speak to an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction before relying on the information in this blog."

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