Updates on Wellness, Lawyers & the “Stay Home/Stay Safe” Order, new rules on notarization & the execution of wills, and a potential Zoom scam.

Good morning all.  This post includes:

  1. Today’s Wellness Message.
  2. An update on the Governor’s “Stay Home/Stay Safe” Order.
  3. An update on Execution of Wills & Notarization.
  4. An alert to a potential Zoom scam.
  5. Wellness Resources

Wellness Message & Encouragement

I let things slide over the past several days.  Not today.

This morning, I made my bed.  I picked up the clothes that had been lying on my bedroom floor for days, folded them, and put them where they belong.  As my coffee brewed, I washed the mugs that had up in the kitchen sink.

I call this “rowing the boat.”  For me, routine helps keep my mind & spirit well.  Completing one simple task leads to another, and so on.  Next thing I know, I’ve changed my focus, been productive, and find myself one day closer to the good days that surely will return.

In rough seas, all I can do is keep rowing the boat.

I love and admire how so many of you are striving to take care of your clients and colleagues during this crisis.  Take care of your own wellness too.

Note: due to letting things slide, I haven’t shaved in 13 days.  “Rowing the boat” doesn’t include removing the pandemic beard . . . at least not yet.

The “Stay Home/Stay Safe” Order

Many lawyers have contacted me with questions about the Governor’s “Stay Home/Stay Safe” order. The questions relate to a perceived tension between a lawyer’s obligations under the order and the lawyer’s obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Trust me, I understand.

There’s no blanket response.  Contact me with specific questions and I will do my best to guide you. Later today, I will try to post tips on complying with the Rules of Professional Conduct during the pandemic.  For now, remember: the preamble makes clear that the rules are RULES OF REASON. In my view, there is nothing unreasonable about minimizing and mitigating the risk of acquiring or spreading a devastating virus.

I spoke this morning with Beth Novotny and Teri Corsones, the VBA’s President and Executive Director. Later today, they are conferencing with the county bar presidents and VBA section chairs.  The goal is to craft and submit a unified request offered on behalf of the Vermont legal community that addresses your collective concerns regarding the “Stay Home/Stay Safe” order.

The VBA is posting its efforts on the VBA website.  The VBA is encouraging you to work with your section chairs and county bar presidents to ensure an effective flow of information.

In addition, the Judiciary is aware of the order and monitoring the situation.  I will update you as a I learn more.  If you missed them, here are the Court’s March 16 Emergency Order, March 18 amendments, March 20 amendments, and March 24 amendments.  The March 24 amendments apply to me.  As I posted here, I will continue to perform my core functions.

Notarization & Execution of Wills

I understand that, soon, the Secretary of State will adopt emergency rules to allow remote notarization.

Also, yesterday, the Vermont Senate passed S.316.  Probate practitioners take note.  Here’s the key language in the bill:

Ҥ 5. EXECUTION OF WILL; REQUISITES

(a) A will shall be:

(1) in writing;

(2) signed in the presence of two or more credible witnesses by the testator or in the testator’s name by some other person in the testator’s presence and by the testator’s express direction; and

(3) attested and subscribed by the witnesses in the presence of the testator and each other.

(b) During the period that the Emergency Administrative Rules for Remote Notarial Acts adopted by the Vermont Secretary of State (“the Emergency Rules”) are in effect, the witnesses to a will signed in conformity with the Emergency Rules and pursuant to the self-proving will provisions of section 108 of this title shall be considered to be in the presence of the testator and each other whether or not the witnesses are physically present with the testator or the notary.

Sec. 2. EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on passage.

And that when so amended the bill ought to pass.”

Zoom Scam

Many of you are using technology to communicate with clients, colleagues, and courts.  Likely family and friends too.  Be wary.  Here’s an email that a lawyer sent to me this morning:

“Hi Michael:

 I wanted to give a heads-up.

 I received an email from Zoom today, purporting to be a reminder for my 7 AM zoom meeting and claiming a named participant (not a familiar name) was waiting for me.  Fortunately, I KNOW I would never schedule a meeting for 7 AM.

 There’s a link in the email which I did not click on, but I assume it would have been trouble.

 Folks should be aware of this.

 I agree. To the lawyer, thank you for making us aware!!

Coping with Coronavirus & Covid-19: Wellness Resources

Last Wednesday’s posts included links to various resources.  It’s here.

Remember, even if you only want to say hi, feel free to call or email.

Final Thought

Be good to yourself and others.

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