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Effective April 21, 2022, Marylanders can now sign their Wills and Trusts virtually because of passing Senate Bill 36. This new legislation was initiated in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now after passing through the legislature, brings Maryland in line with several other states that permit electronic wills.
Historically, to execute a valid Will in Maryland, an individual (“testator” or “testatrix”) had to sign their Will in the physical presence of two witnesses. This new law allows a testator or testatrix to meet with their witnesses virtually (in their “electronic presence”) and sign their wills via an interface that supports videoconferencing and electronic signature, thus bypassing the requirement to meet in person. Individuals who are immunocompromised, hospitalized, or for other reasons prefer not to visit the law firm in person, can put these important documents in place. After the document is electronically signed in the presence of two witnesses, a “certified paper original” of the will is created either by the testator or testatrix’s attorney, or by the testator or testatrix themselves, in which case it must be notarized.
Senate Bill 36 also made it possible to remotely execute a notarized trust agreement. It became possible to remotely execute other important estate planning documents (Powers of Attorney and Advanced Medical Directives) in 2021.
Altman & Associates prefers that individuals come to the physical office near your location to sign your documents. In the signing meeting, our attorneys make sure that you are comfortable with the documents, provide explanations and notarize the documents, and other materials are provided to you. Please talk with our Administrative Assistant in advance regarding your preference.