Important Announcement to Our Clients
Let us first begin by wishing everyone good health. We hope you are all coping as well as possible with the current situation caused by the COVID-19 virus.
March 23rd COVID-19 UPDATE:
Based on today’s emergency order from Governor Baker, our office will continue to remain open in order to provide “essential professional services!” As mentioned previously (see below), we are not seeing clients personally in our office until further notice, but we can still have client meetings remotely by videoconferencing and of course by teleconferencing for those who do not have the ability to do videoconferencing. Simply call the office at (781)344-2886 to set up your meeting.
I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and incorporating appropriate personal safety measures at home and at work. For those that have had to close their businesses based on this order, I hope this is short-lived and you are up and running again as soon as possible. For those continuing to work, please stay safe and good luck with your business and other work-related activity.
Finally, thank you to all the medical providers, first responders, public safety and military personnel for all your tireless efforts during these difficult times. You are truly “essential” and remarkable with all that you do, and you have our heartfelt appreciation for all you do. Please stay safe everyone! Together we will get through this.
A few notes about the “new normal” at our office in the current environment:
I. We Are Open for Business:
We want all of our clients to know that we remain open (subject to further government orders) and able to continue to provide legal services in a safe and convenient manner. Fortunately, we have the technology to allow us to remain open for business and work from home consistent with government recommended practices. This includes real time meetings via video conferencing and teleconferencing.
II. Electronic and Remote Notarization is Coming:
There is some good news on the horizon. Efforts to allow electronic and remote notarization have been given new life. From proposed Executive Orders submitted by real estate conveyancers and the Mass. Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (“NAELA”) to a House Bill entitled “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic (SECURE) Notarization Act of 2020,” changes are coming to allow for documents to be executed and notarized remotely. Under the current law, any document that needs to be notarized, including real estate documents such as deeds and mortgages as well as estate planning documents, including Wills and Trusts, require in-person notarization. The proposed changes would allow for off-site signings with the physical notarization to follow provided that the execution of the documents was witnessed via electronic video conferencing in real time. These changes will allow property owners, borrowers, and elders to complete real estate and estate planning transactions from the comfort of their own home, without risking their health or the health of those around them.
III. We Are Available for Legal Services via Videoconferencing and Teleconferencing:
Among some of the changes implemented recently is the provision of legal services via video conferencing and teleconferencing, and we encourage our clients to take advantage of our video conferencing capabilities. This will enable our clients to receive necessary legal services, such as estate planning and real estate transactions from their homes, without the need to travel to our office and with the ability to maintain appropriate social distancing.
IV. Contracts and Force Majeure:
This also is a good time to review those so-called “boilerplate” provisions in real estate contracts dealing with force majeure, otherwise known as an Excused Delay. In other words, does a public health emergency or a pandemic (specifically including COVID-19) excuse a party to a real estate transaction, whether Buyer or Seller, from performance of its obligations under the contract? We are recommending that real estate agreements include a provision regarding Excused Delay which materially affects a party’s ability to perform in the event of an Act of God, declared state of emergencies, public health emergencies, pandemic (specifically including COVID-19), government mandated quarantines or travel bans. As always, one size does not fit all, so these provisions need to be considered carefully in each case and tailored to the particular circumstances of the transaction.
Finally, we wish to thank everyone for their continued support and patience and we look forward to continuing to deliver timely and quality legal services to all our clients during these trying times.
Barry Crimmins and all of us here at the Law Offices of Barry R. Crimmins, P.C.