By Nikol Nesterenko, Jonathan Chernoguz, and Sarah Hooper
Advance care planning — the process by which an individual documents their wishes for health care in the event that they become incapacitated — has become particularly urgent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, individuals that wish to engage in advance care planning, and specifically to document their plans in a written form (i.e., advance directives), have faced significant hurdles due to legal execution requirements. State advance directive law often requires or presumes live, in-person witnessing or notarization, actions which were prohibited by social distancing orders or simply unsafe during the pandemic.
In this piece, we summarize the state of remote execution requirements for advance directives before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Broadly speaking, while many states took some action in this regard, most did not enact comprehensive changes, and therefore failed to meaningfully facilitate remote execution of advance directives.