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Executive Order

Notary Law Update: GA Governor Executive Order 03.31.20.01

State: Georgia

Summary:

Georgia Governor Kemp temporarily suspends the physical presence requirement for notarial acts related to legal documents involving real estate transactions.

Signed:  March 31, 2020

Effective:  March 31, 2020

Affects:

Georgia Notaries Public who perform notarial acts for legal documents in real estate transactions.

Changes:

Changes:

  1. Provides that any statutory requirement that the attestation of a recordable instrument under OCGA Code Sections 44-2-1 et seq. and 45-17-1 et seq. must occur in the physical presence of a Notary Public may be satisfied by the use of real-time audio-visual communication technology or any similar real-time means of electronic video conferencing that allows the parties to communicate with each other simultaneously by sight and sound.
  2. Provides that any requirement under OCGA Code Section 44-2-1 et seq. that an in person witness attest or acknowledge an instrument, document, or deed 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.
  3. Provides that if one or more provisions in the executive order are adjudged to be invalid, unconstitutional, in violation of Georgia law or unenforceable, these sections shall not affect other provisions of the order that are not.
Analysis:

According to the “Georgia Notary Handbook,” Notaries must require the personal physical appearance of the document signer at the time of a notarial act. In view of personal distancing recommendations arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, this Executive Order temporarily permits Georgia Notaries to use real-time audio-visual communication technology or video conferencing to satisfy this physical presence requirement for certain documents, provided all parties can communicate with each other simultaneously by sight and sound. The Governor’s order would appear to allow the use of dedicated remote online notarization platforms in which electronic documents are signed and notarized and video conference programs that allow paper documents to be sent between the parties. This temporary provision applies specifically to the Notary’s attestation of recordable instruments and an in-person witness’s attestation or acknowledgment of documents or deeds pertaining to real estate transactions. The temporary order expires upon the conclusion of the Public Health State of Emergency declared in Governor Kemp’s Executive Order No. 03.14.20.01.

Georgia is an attorney-closing state, meaning an attorney admitted to the state bar must be present or involved in the closing of real property transactions.

Read the executive order.

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