March 24, 2020
Following the issuance of the Safer at Home Order by the Governor of Wisconsin, we can report that we are still open for business, for now. We are not required to close by the state government, and as such, we shall continue to be of service to our clients. That said, Wokwicz Law Offices, LLC, will be implementing the following safety measures as detailed below.
We apologize in advance for the expected inconveniences of these new procedures. Rest assured that we are changes to our routines are to keep the community we serve as safe as possible.
Give Yourself Peace of Mind
A properly crafted estate plan can give you peace of mind, knowing your assets and family are well protected. Our estate planning lawyers will help you get there.
Temporary Procedures During the Government Stay at Home Order
Estate Planning and Coronavirus
We want to serve our clients while also keeping our community and clients safe. Therefore, we will implement a number of procedures to continue to serve our clients’ needs in as safe a manner as possible. We plan on serving the greater Kenosha and Racine estate planning needs as best we can during these trying times. We know that estate planning is important during trying times, and we want to provide estate planning services, while mitigating the potential for exposure and infection.
Hopefully, soon, we will be able to return to normal and these procedures outlined in this article will no longer be required.
Please Call for Your Estate Planning Needs
As we will still be taking phone call and video conference appointments, we can begin the estate planning process without an in-person meeting. Please call our office – 262-658-2181 – for your estate planning, trust, wills, power of attorneys, probate and trust administration needs.
Even with this current upheaval, we’re able to begin your estate planning process. We can subsequently arrange a later signing date or other alternatives discussed below.
As we often share with our clients, estate planning is a process. And we can start that process now through telephone and video conferencing meetings.
No Visitors Without Appointments
We will no longer allow “drop in” appointments. We ask that only those with an “in office” signing meeting come to our office. We ask that you call or email our office instead of dropping in to see us without an appointment. We’re implementing this procedure to minimize the number of people entering our office – as a safety measure for everyone, including future clients.
We ask that when dropping off documents at our office, please leave those documents in our mail box in the lobby of our building.
First Meetings and Information Gathering
Until further notice, we will conduct non-signing meeting by way of email, telephone, or video conferencing. Normally, we prefer to meet in person for initial meetings for a number of reasons. However, at this time the benefits of initial in-person meetings may outweigh the risks. We will therefore work with our clients and prospective clients to conduct first meetings remotely via telephone or video conferencing. We can gather the necessary information and discuss the necessary estate planning, probate, and trust administration issues and goals remotely.
We will obtain necessary documents via mail, email, or drop off, depending upon the clients’ comfort level.
Signing meetings will need to take place in person for legal reasons. Certain estate planning documents require notaries or witnesses and cannot be competed remotely. Certain rules relaxing in person notary laws do not apply to Wisconsin estate planning documents such as trusts, durable powers of attorney, and other documents. Therefore, signing meetings will still need to be in-person. That said, we will be offering in-car signing meetings as discussed more fully below.
Maintaining Best Practices for Signing Meetings
We have always required that we meet alone with the client when signing estate planning documents. This is a best practice and a requirement that we always follow. By rigorously following this practice, as estate planning attorneys, we can always testify that we met alone with the client – and that the client was not pressured or unduly influenced when signing documents.
We’ve been practicing law a long time. Our Founder, Paul F. Wokwicz, has been an attorney for over 60 years. His son, and our Lead Attorney and Owner, Paul B. Wokwicz, has practiced law for over 26 years. Over these combined 86+ years of practicing law, we have always been able to testify that a client was alone with us, and able to freely converse with us without any other people around during each and every signing meeting. This is a crucial rule that we cannot bend.
In-Car Signing Meetings
As mentioned above, we will offer in-car signing meetings. However, even during in-car signing meetings, any non-client in the vehicle will need to leave the car – and the immediate area. We will insist on this best practice even for in-car signings.
Our Plan to Continue Serving Our Clients’ Needs – A Summary of Our Procedures:
The procedures we are implementing to best serve our clients estate planning and probate needs, while mitigating exposure to the coronavirus, as are follows:
- We will be limiting persons entering our office, keeping a safe distance when in the office, wiping down surfaces, washing hands, and regularly using hand sanitizer. We will follow health recommendations from the government health officials.
- We will not allow employees of Wokwicz Law Offices, LLC, or clients who are experiencing a cough, fever, or shortness of breath, or who has experienced any of these symptoms within the past fourteen days to come into our office. We ask that anyone who has experienced a cough, fever, or shortness of breath within 14 days of any appointment, notify us to request a new appointment.
- Due to the current health situation, we will conduct all first meetings via telephone or video conferencing. We will collect initial estate planning or probate information via email, phone, or mail, as necessary and practical.
- Under current law, we cannot avoid a meeting to sign estate planning documents such as wills, trusts, powers or attorney and related items. Although there is an emergency notary procedure, it does not apply for Wisconsin estate planning documents. We will however, discuss documents remotely before a signing meeting where appropriate.
- For signing meetings, if requested, we will allow clients to sign while in their own car in our parking lot. As notaries and witnesses, we will stand outside of the car, take the documents back from the client, witness and take the documents back to our office for processing and scanning. We will require that any non-client in a vehicle leave the vehicle and area during the signing meeting.
- In light of our current health concerns, we will now ask clients to bring their own pens to signing meetings. If a client does not bring his or her own pen, we will invite the client to keep the pen used to sign documents. We will not reuse pens used to sign estate planning documents.
- We will attempt to discuss and review documents such as trusts, wills, deeds, power of attorneys and other probate or estate planning documents by way of telephone, email, or video conferencing before our signing meeting. However, we will still need to summarize what is being signed and point out important parts of each document during the signing meeting.
- We ask clients and others not to drop in to our office. Please call our office instead. We ask that clients and others only come to the office if they have an appointment. We seek to limit unnecessary foot traffic in our office to keep our clients safe. So, if you are asked to leave and call, please do not be offended. We love and care about our clients, and we need to be as safe as we can while still providing high quality legal services.
Our Estate Planning Services Will Continue – in a Slightly Different Way
We will do our best to keep our clients, employees and community safe. We will take actions necessary to help protect everyone involved in the estate planning process. Let’s stay safe and help get past this crisis by decreasing the spread of this awful virus in our community.