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Executive Order

GA Governor Executive Orders (2020)

Notary Law Update: GA Governor Executive Orders (2020)

State: Georgia

Summary:

Georgia Governor Kemp temporarily suspends the physical presence requirement for notarial acts related to legal documents involving real estate transactions. A second-order broadens and provides additional rules for performing remote notarizations.

Signed:  April 01, 2020

Effective:  April 01, 2020

Affects:

Georgia Notaries Public who perform notarial acts for legal documents in real estate transactions. A second-order broadens and provides additional rules for performing remote notarizations.

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.
A second order issued on April 9, 2020, contains additional provisions.

  1. Suspends any requirement under Georgia laws that state that a notarial act performed pursuant to Chapter 17 of Title 45 of the Official Code of Georgia must occur in the physical presence of the Notary is suspended.
  2. Requires the following if a notarial act is performed remotely: (a) The Notary must use real-time audio-video 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 in order to notarize signatures. (b) The Notary must be an attorney licensed to practice law in Georgia or is operating under the supervision of an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. "Supervision" means that the Notary is an employee, independent contractor, agent, or other representative of an attorney or an attorney observes the execution of documents either in person or via the real-time audio-video communication technology. (c) The signer requiring the notarial act presents satisfactory evidence of identity as required in OCGA Section 45-17-8, while connected to the real-time audio-video communication technology. (d) The Notary is physically located in the state of Georgia when performing the remote notarization. (e) The signer transmits a copy of the signed document to the Notary on the same date it was signed for execution by the Notary. (f) The official date and time of the notarization or witnessing performed via the use of audio-video communication technology or any similar real-time means of electronic video conferencing must be the date and time when the Notary and/or witness(es) witness the signature via the videoconference technology. (g) All documents notarized or witnessed via the use of audio-video communication technology or any similar real-time means of electronic video conferencing must be signed, certified, and executed, as appropriate, by the Notary and/or witness(es) on the same calendar day that the signer signs the document.
  3. Clarifies that any requirement under Georgia law that a document be signed, subscribed, executed, witnessed, attested, acknowledged, or affirmed in the physical presence of another individual or other individuals may be satisfied by the use of 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.
  4. Specifically lists applicable Georgia statutes related to a power of attorney, verified petition filed in probate court, antenuptial agreement, surrender of rights for adoption, return filed in probate court, standby guardian designation, nomination of guardian, nomination of conservator, advance directive for health care, designation of successor custodian, will, and codicil as being permitted to be signed and witnessed remotely and does not limit the statutes or documents to those mentioned.
  5. Provides that if one or more of the provisions contained in the order is held to be invalid, in violation of the Georgia Constitution, in violation of Georgia law, or unenforceable in any respect, the invalidity, violation, or unenforceability will not affect any other provisions of the order, but, in such case, the order must be construed as if such invalid, illegal, or unenforceable provision had never been contained within the order.
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.

A second order issued by Governor Kemp broadens the original order with additional provisions and requirments as noted above.

Read Executive Order 03.31.20.01.

Read Executive Order 04.09.20.01.

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