On April 27, 2020, Governor Baker signed a new Massachusetts law legalizing the use of videoconferencing services in signing documents before notaries public and witnesses during the COVID-19 crisis. This will allow real estate closings, the execution of estate plans, and the signing of other documents that require such formalities to take place remotely. The new law expires by its terms three (3) business days after the end of the Governor’s March 10, 2020, Emergency Declaration. The new law has several requirements that must be strictly observed.
What are the Courts doing to stop the spread?
The Supreme Judicial Court, the Probate and Family Courts, and the Superior Courts in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have taken extraordinary measures to reduce the amount of foot traffic into our courthouses in order to help limit the spread of the virus. The Courts issued the following unprecedented, relevant Orders governing courthouse practices during this pandemic, effective March 18, 2020: Order in re: COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Standing Order 2-20: Court operations under the exigent circumstances created by COVID-19, andSuperior Court Standing Order 3-20: Protocol governing Superior Court proceedings during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The Courts have essentially closed, and “non-essential” law firm personnel have been ordered to work from home as much as possible, but that does not mean your probate litigation case must be held in limbo. Here are our Top 5 strategies for remaining proactive in pending and anticipated probate litigation matters.