The North Carolina State Bar has once again gone on the record to allow Notary Signing Agents to operate in the state after reaffirming a nine-year-old opinion that allowed nonattorney Notaries to handle real estate signings, with certain stipulations.
After reviewing the activities of more than 50 nonlawyer service providers, the State Bar reaffirmed its 2003 “Authorized Practice Advisory Opinion” that says laypersons, such as Notary Signing Agents, may perform signing services by themselves provided they do not engage in the unauthorized practice of law.
Prior to the issuance of the 2003 Advisory Opinion, North Carolina was an “attorney-only state,” meaning that only licensed attorneys may perform services in connection with loan closings. After the issuance of the 2003 Advisory Opinion, in 2006 the State Bar unsuccessfully mounted a legislative campaign to lock laypersons out of performing administrative services in connection with residential real estate closings without the presence of an attorney.
While NSAs operate in many states, several others restrict NSAs from performing loan signing services. The states of South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, Georgia, and Delaware require an attorney to supervise real estate closings, and Indiana and Maryland require NSAs to hold a title insurance producer license.