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Executive Order

AR Governor Executive Orders (2020)

Notary Law Update: AR Governor Executive Orders (2020)

State: Arkansas

Summary:

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson issues executive orders that temporarily allows certain limited Notaries to perform notarial acts using real-time audio and visual means.

Signed:  March 31, 2020

Effective:  March 31, 2020

Chapter: N/A

Affects:

Notaries Public who are attorneys licensed by Arkansas, who are title agents licensed by Arkansas, who are supervised by either an attorney or a title agent licensed by Arkansas, or who are employed by a financial institution registered or insured with the Arkansas State Bank Department. After April 9, 2020, Notaries registered or insured with the Arkansas Securities Department or the National Credit Union Administrative (NCUA) also are included.

Changes:

NOTE: The following provisions apply ONLY to the following Notaries:

  • Notaries who are attorneys licensed to practice law in Arkansas
  • Notaries who are title agents licensed by Arkansas
  • Notaries who are supervised by either an attorney or a title agent licensed by Arkansas
  • Notaries who are employed by a financial institution registered or insured with the Arkansas State Bank Department.
  • Effective April 9, 2020, Notaries who are employed by a financial institution registered or insured with the Arkansas Securities Department or the National Credit Union Administrative (NCUA).
  1. Suspends the provisions of the Arkansas Code that deem notarial certificates to be incomplete to allow an official signature or seal of a notarial certificate or seal to be executed at a time when the principal or signer is not present in person but is otherwise present remotely, as well as allow a signed or sealed notarial certificate to be executed with the understanding that the notarial certificate will be completed or attached to a document outside of the physical presence of the Notary Public, when a Notary Public, as specified under the Order, is present via real-time audio and visual means for the remainder of this emergency.
  2. Suspends the provisions of Arkansas Code 21-14-202 requiring Notaries Public, as specified under the Order, to file their signatures, general descriptions of potential commercial documents to be notarized via facsimile signature, the names of persons signing documents via facsimile signature, and the written consent of such persons, to the Secretary of State for the remainder of this emergency when the Notaries determine that documents would be best notarized via facsimile signature.
  3. Suspend the provisions of Arkansas Code 21-14-302 requiring electronic Notaries Public, as specified under the Order, to have sufficient physical proximity to allow for the use and reliance on an electronic device, such as a telephone, computer, video-camera, or facsimile machine and otherwise register with a separate commission to perform electronic notarial acts under the laws of this state for the remainder of this emergency.
  4. Suspends the provisions of Arkansas Code 21-14-307 requiring electronic Notaries Public, as specified under the Order, to have sufficient physical proximity to allow said electronic Notaries Public to perform and witness electronic notarial acts if the document signer or witness does not appear in person before the electronic Notary Public at the time of the electronic notarial act, but is otherwise present via real-time audio and visual means for the remainder of this emergency consistent with the text of this executive order.
  5. Authorizes, notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, Notaries Public, as specified under the Order, to notarize signatures including acknowledgments and jurats virtually through real-time audio and visual means provided that both the Notary Public and the signer are both physically located in the State of Arkansas at the time of signing, and the signing of documents is visually seen by the person that confirms it.
  6. Clarifies that pursuant to this Order, any person who witnesses or signs a document through real-time audio and visual means may be considered to be either "in the presence of," or as an "in person" witness, provided that the presence and identity of such witness are validated at the time of the signing by a Notary Public, as specified under the Order, and further clarifies that the identity and physical presence of any and all witnesses and signers in the State of Arkansas must be validated at the time of execution of the documents to be witnessed.
  7. Defines "real-time audio and visual means" as technology where all parties can see and hear the other parties simultaneously, including, but are not limited to, Skype, Zoom, FaceTime and other similar technologies.
  8. Provides that when 2 or more persons sign a document simultaneously in different locations, they must necessarily sign separate signature pages and therefore all documents executed in this manner must be executed in counterparts.
  9. Provides that notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, absent an express prohibition in a document against signing in counterparts, all legal documents, including deeds, last and testaments, durable powers of attorney, and health care proxies, may be signed in counterpart.
  10. Clarifies that the authority granted pursuant to this Order automatically expires when the state of emergency is terminated, or at such other time as I may direct in a subsequent Executive Order.
Analysis:
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson becomes the latest governor to suspend certain normal Notary laws to allow documents to be notarized during the state of emergency brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to understand that the Order applies only to the types of Notaries mentioned; the Order does not apply to all Arkansas Notaries. The Order allows audio and visual conference technologies to replace the physical presence statute in Arkansas provided both signer and Notary are located in Arkansas at the time of notarization. These notarizations are signed by both the signer and Notary on paper documents. The Governor expressed concern that all citizens of Arkansas and especially the elderly and most vulnerable, need access to legal services at this critical time in the state's history. Signing, witnessing and notarizing documents via real-time audio and visual means is thus necessary and expedient to meet the state of emergency.

On April 9, 2020, Governor Hutchinson reissued Executive Order 20-12 as Executive Order 201-14 and included within its scope Notaries who are employed by a financial institution registered or insured with the Arkansas Securities Department or the National Credit Union Administrative (NCUA).

On October 13, 2020, Governor Hutchinson issued Executive Order 20-48 extended Executive Order 20-14 for an additional sixty days, or December 13, 2020.

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