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Executive Order

TN Governor Executive Orders (2020)

Notary Law Update: TN Governor Executive Orders (2020)

State: Tennessee

Summary:

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued an executive order temporarily allowing Notaries to perform notarizations using videoconference solutions during the COVID-19 crisis and extending the commissions of Notaries, as specified.

Signed:  April 09, 2020

Effective:  April 09, 2020

Chapter: N/A

Affects:

All Tennessee Notaries Public.

Changes:
  1. Provides that any law, including, but not limited to, the common law, the provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 8, Chapter 16, and Titles 32, 34, 66, and 68, and any related rules, requiring a signatory to execute a document in the physical presence of, or while physically appearing before, a Notary or witness(es), or requiring a witness(es) to witness a document in the physical presence of, or while physically appearing before, a Notary or another witness(es), is hereby suspended to the extent necessary to permit remote notarization and remote witnessing, if all requirements, as specified below, are followed.
  2. Requires execution by a signatory, witnessing by witness(es), and notarization by a Notary, as applicable, to occur via real-time audio and visual communication means where the signatory, the Notary, and witness(es), as applicable, can see and hear one another simultaneously, including, but not limited to, videoconference technology such as Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, WebEx, and other similar communication technologies.
  3. Requires the signatory, Notary, and witness(es), as applicable, to each be physically located in Tennessee during the real-time audio and visual communication.
  4. Requires the Notary and witness(es), as applicable, through use of the real-time audio and visual communication, to verify the identity of the signatory, by personal knowledge or by government-issued identification at the time that execution occurs.
  5. Requires the signatory and witness(es), as applicable, to affirmatively identify on the real-time audio and visual communication the document being executed and witnessed, as applicable.
  6. Requires the execution and witnessing, as applicable, to be captured sufficiently close on the real-time audio and visual communication for the Notary and witness(es), as applicable, to observe.
  7. Requires the document to include a provision stating that it was executed in compliance with Executive Order No. 26 by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, dated April 9, 2020.
  8. Requires the execution, witnessing, or notarization of a document, as applicable, to be memorialized by at least in counterparts or by the subsequent notarization or witnessing of the original document.
  9. Allows the execution, witnessing or notarization to be done in counterparts or subsequent notarization or witnessing of the original document, or both.
  10. Provides that memorializing the execution, witnessing or notarization in counterparts means that persons who execute, witness, or notarize a document, as applicable, while in different locations from one another execute, witness or notarize separate signature pages.
  11. Provides that memorializing the execution, witnessing or notarization through the subsequent notarization or witnessing of the original document means that the document is executed by the signatory, and then the applicable Notary or witness(es), or a combination thereof, subsequently notarizes or witnesses the original document executed by the signatory; and further provides that such notarizing or witnessing is be deemed to be carried out at the time of the execution by the signatory as long as the notarizing or witnessing is completed not later than ten calendar days from the date of the execution of the document.
  12. Suspends the provisions and requirements of the Online Notary Public Act (Title 8, Chapter 16, Part 3 of the Tennessee Code Annotated) to the extent necessary to permit a Notary to remotely notarize a document in accordance with the Executive Order.
  13. Clarifies that the Executive Order does not prevent an online Notary from electing to notarize a document pursuant to the provisions of the Online Notary Public Act, and compliance with the Online Notary Public Act shall continue to have full force and effect under law.
  14. Clarifies that the Executive Order is in effect from April 9, 2020, and shall remain in effect until May 18, 2020, at which time the suspension of any state laws and rules and the other provisions of this Order shall cease and be of no further force or effect.
  15. Adds provision 4.1. that TCA Section 8-16-103 is suspended to the extent necessary to delay the expiration of terms of office of Notaries Public and Online Notaries Public set to expire between March 12, 2020, and May 18, 2020.
  16. Extends the commissions of these Notaries and Online Notaries until July 15, 2020.
  17. Clarifies that the extensions do not affect the requirement of providing a surety bond under TCA 8-16-104.
Analysis:

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has issued an executive order allowing relaxed rules for remote notarizations from April 9 through May 18, 2020. Tennessee has a statute (Online Notary Public Act) and administrative rules that provide more stringent requirements for “remote online notarization.” These laws are temporarily suspended to allow for the rules in this Executive Order to be implemented. If a Tennessee Online Notary Public wishes to notarize a document under the Online Notary Public Act, the Notary may do so, but any Tennessee Notary Public – Online Notary Public or not – may perform a remote notarization under the temporary rules.

Read the Executive Order.

On April 27, 2020, Governor Lee issued Executive Order 28, extending the commissions of Notaries and Online Notaries (see Changes, numbers 15-17, above).

On May 12, 2020, Governor Lee issued Executive Order 37, extending the remote notarization provisions through June 30, 2020. The Order also modified the statement that must appear on each document notarized by videoconference under the Order stating in that it was executed in compliance with, as applicable, Executive Order No. 26 by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, dated April 9, 2020, and/or Executive Order No. 37 by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, dated May 12, 2020 (see Changes, #7, above). The Order also extended the commissions of Notaries and Online Notaries that expired bewteen March 12 and June 15, 2020, to June 30, 2020.

On June 29, 2020, Governor Lee issued Executive Order 52, extending the remote notarization provisions through August 29, 2020. The Order also modified the statement that must appear on each document notarized by videoconference under the Order stating in that it was executed in compliance with, as applicable, Executive Order No. 26 by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, dated April 9, 2020, Executive Order No. 37 by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, dated May 12, 2020, and/or Executive Order No. 52 by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, dated June 29, 2020 (see Changes, #7, above). The Order did not extend Notary and Online Notary commissions further.

On August 28, 2020, Governor Lee issued Executive Order 61, extending the remote notarization provisions through September 30, 2020. The Order also modified the statement that must appear on each document notarized by videoconference under the Order stating in that it was executed in compliance with, as applicable, Executive Order No. 26 by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, dated April 9, 2020, Executive Order No. 37 by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, dated May 12, 2020, Executive Order No. 52 by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, and/or Executive Order 61 by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee dated August 28, 2020 (see Changes, #7, above).

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