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Temporary Use of Video Conferencing to Notarize Documents During 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.

On Wednesday April 8, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued executive order 2020-41 temporarily suspending the requirement of notarizing documents in-person and allows notaries to conduct notarizations using two-way real-time audiovisual technology (i.e. video conference technology) as long as all of the following conditions are met:

  • The audiovisual technology must allow direct interaction between the signer and the notary by sight and sound;

  • You must create an audio and visual recording of the notarization which must be maintained for ten years;

  • The notary must keep a journal of each transaction conducted using the video conference technology. The journal should state the name and address of individual, the date of the notarization, the type of document being notarized, the identification documentation provided, and the program being used to conduct the video conference (e.g. skype, zoom, etc.);

  • Satisfactory evidence of identity of the signer and witnesses must be presented during the video conference. The evidence used to verify identity must be shown during the live video feed;

  • The individual seeking notarial services must state whether he or she is physically located in this state. If the person is located in another state, the document must relate to a matter going before a court, governmental entity, public official, or an entity in this state or the document must involve property located in this state;

  • Signatures must be affixed in a manner that renders any future changes or modifications to be evident; and

  • The notary must place the phrase: “Notarized using electronic/remote technology” under the notary block.

  • The individual seeking the notarial service must immediately transmit (fax, mail, email) a legible copy of the entire signed document on the same date that it was signed. This applies regardless of how the document itself is signed.

  • On receipt of the document, the notary shall notarize the document and send it back to the individual. The date and time of the notarization is the date and time the notary witnessed the person sign during the video conference.

  • The signing of documents using two-way real-time audiovisual technology takes place between April 9, 2010 and on or before May 6, 2020.

It is important to make sure that a document is properly notarized. An improper notarization can result in the document being declared invalid by the court or rejected by the receiving party. The individual seeking notarial services should not assume that the notary being used is aware of and meeting the above conditions. It is imperative that both the individual seeking notarial services and the notary ensure that all of the above conditions are met. Click HERE for the actual Order 2020-41.

If you would like to make sure that the document notarized meets the above conditions or if you need estate planning documents such as a Power of Attorney for Finances, a health care advance directive, or a Last Will and Testament prepared, then contact Sterling Law. Sterling is not just our name, but the quality of our service!

Link to actual order:

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 matt

er. 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.


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