Temporary Electronic Notaries
For closings or other documents that require the signature of a notary (and/or a witness), Georgia’s governor today has issued an executive order allowing remote notary (Order No. 03.31.20.01).
Witnessing of a signature by a witness or notary may be satisfied by “the use of real-time audio-video communication technology or any similar real-time means of electronic video conferencing that allows all of the parties to communicate with each other simultaneously by sight and sound.”
Such order is only in effect as long as the Executive Order #0.3.14.20.01 declaring a Public Health State Emergency in Georgia is in effect (currently through April 13, 2020), or as may be extended.
However, an electronic notary is only helpful if it is accepted in the marketplace. Will it be accepted by courts, title insurance companies, lenders, or private business?
For instance, one title company will only insure title on recorded title documents under the following ADDITIONAL conditions (above and beyond the limitation placed by the State of Georgia). Some of those requirements include, but are not limited to:
- The lender in any transaction must give written authorization and instructions from any lender and all parties to a transaction.
- Transaction must be 1 to 4 family residential property in Georgia with title insurance not to exceed $2 Million.
- The Notary must be registered in Georgia and physically located in Georgia while witnessing the signing.
- The Notary must sign a certification form issued by the title company
- The document shall be dated by the Notary the date of the signing, not the date the Notary received the original-signed documents.
- The only audio-video technology allowed is Zoom Pro, Zoom Executive or Microsoft Teams.
- A signer must place the signed original documents (and photo ID copy) in an overnight package to the closing Attorney during the audio-video conference in the presence of the Closing Attorney.
- No disbursement of money can occur until the original signed documents are received by the Closing Attorney.
Keep in mind that different title insurance companies and lenders may have different requirements.
It is important that anyone planning to sign remotely when a witness or notary is needed should coordinate with all parties ahead of time, especially with the closing attorney and any lender that may be involved. For more information on how my firm is handling real estate and business closings, see my previous blog post.
Wendy W. Kraby is a business and land development attorney at Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers, LLC in Atlanta and is an affiliated professional member of GABB. https://www.gdcrlaw.com/wendy-w-kraby