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COVID-19 Emergency Legislation

In response to COVID-19 restrictions and their impact on the practice of law, the VBA was instrumental in marshaling several pieces of emergency legislation to address that impact. Governor Scott signed the bills into law on April 28. Act 96 allows for the remote witnessing of wills, and Act 95 allows for the remote witnessing of powers of attorney and deeds. (Check out our webinars on May 11 & May 13 on remote executions!). Act 95 also extends the statute of limitations in civil cases that would have otherwise expired during the state of emergency. Legislation to allow the remote witnessing of advance directives (H. 950) is in process. 

Many thanks to Mark Langan and Bob Pratt as co-chairs of the Probate Law Section, along with Jeanne Blackmore, who helped to draft and/or testified on S.316, which allows for the remote execution of self-proving wills. Mark, Jeanne and Teri Corsones will be leading the webinar on May 11th to discuss remote witnessing and more.

Thanks also to Jim Knapp and Benj Deppman as co-chairs of the Property Law Section, along with Andy Mikell, who helped to draft and/or testified on S.114, which allows for the remote execution of powers of attorney and deeds. Jim, Benj, Andy and VBA Executive Director Teri Corsones worked closely with the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office to implement the Emergency Rules for Remote Notarization, utilized as part of the remote execution process in the two bills. Jim will be leading the Remote Ink webinar on May 13th.

Many thanks to all the practitioners, including Sections and Division Chairs and County Bar Presidents, who helped with the portion of Act 95 extending the statute of limitations in civil actions that would have otherwise expired during the state of emergency to 60 days past the date that the Governor terminates the state of emergency by declaration. Thank you to Chris Maley, Teri Corsones and Judge Brian Grearson who testified regarding the provision.

Finally, additional thanks to Elder Law Section Chair Glenn Jarrett for the work he’s doing on H.950, along with representatives of Vermont Ethics Network, Disability Rights Vermont and Vermont Legal Aid, to allow for the remote witnessing of advance directives. That bill has been voted out of House Human Services and is awaiting House and Senate approval. We will continue to keep you posted on emergency legislation through VBA Connect postings and through updates to our COVID-19 Resource Page.

The VBA is very grateful for so many members’ consistent willingness to share their knowledge and expertise, especially in these challenging times!