How to Notarize Documents During a Pandemic Like COVID-19
Update 10/8/20 - In light of Midwest Inst of Health, PLLC v Governor of Michigan (In re Certified Questions from the United States Distr Court) Oct 2, 2020, recent updates to attorney resources (i.e., ICLE) recommend immediately stopping the use of the governor’s emergency executive orders to remotely witness and remotely notarize documents.
Hopefully the legislature will ratify acts of remote witnessing and expanded remote notarization that occurred under the executive orders and allow for the continued use of remote witnessing and expanded remote notarization in Michigan. However, until then, the best practice would be to revert to the pre-executive orders requirements.
One of the things that a pandemic should make you realize is that it is very important to have Power of Attorney documents authorizing a person of your choosing to act on your behalf with respect to your finances and to make important medical decisions when you are unable to. If you don’t have these documents, it is not too late to create them but these documents must be signed before a notary public to become effective. How can that be done during a pandemic with in-person meeting restrictions? There are several ways: 1) Durable powers of attorney for financial matters can be signed electronically with the use of software such as DocuSign, SignNow, ESign Gene, etc. Michigan has adopted the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) which governs the use of electronic signatures and attestations. Unfortunately, UETA does not allow electronic signatures and attestation for Health Care Powers of Attorney (aka Advanced Directives), wills, codicils, or testamentary trusts, as well as some other documents. Health care powers of attorney must still be signed in person.
2) Some banks are offering to notarize documents as part of their “drive-thru” service. Most bank drive-thrus still allow the notary to personally witness the signing of the document and verify the identity of the signor. 3) There are companies that offer remote notarization services. If it is not possible to get the signor, witnesses, and notary together for the signing of the document, then paying for remote notarization services may be needed. Here are a few companies that provide that service: Nexsys, Payaso, NotaryCam, Notarize. 4) Some notaries may be willing to meet at a mutually agreeable location where the 6’ distancing can be observed, and other safety measures taken (ex: masks, gloves, no sharing of pens) to witness the signing of the documents. If you are in need of Power of Attorney documents, Sterling Law can prepare these documents for you without having to physically meet. Once the documents are finalized, Sterling Law can also: 1) provide witnesses and notarize the documents outside their office where the 6’ distancing and other safety measures (masks, gloves, no sharing of pens) can be taken during the signing of the documents to maintain everyone’s safety; OR alternative: 2) advise you on which of the above methods would be most suited in your specific situation.
For these sterling services, call Sterling Law at 231-486-0559 or 989-705-2326 firstname.lastname@example.org / sterlinglawoffice.net
The information in this post is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Sterling Law or the individual author nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the reader’s licensing jurisdiction.