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Executive Order

TX Executive Order (Estate and Healthcare Documents)

Notary Law Update: TX Executive Order (Estate and Healthcare Documents)

State: Texas

Summary:

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order temporarily suspending certain statutes to allow for remote notarization of estate and healthcare documents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Signed:  April 08, 2020

Effective:  April 08, 2020

Chapter: N/A

Affects:

All Texas Notaries Public.

Changes:
  1. Suspends the following statutes to the extent necessary to allow for appearance before a Notary Public via videoconference to execute a self-proved will, a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, a directive to physician, or an oath of an executor, administrator, or guardian: Estates Code § 251.104(b); Estates Code § 251.1045(a); Estates Code § 751.0021(a)(4); Health & Safety Code § 166.154(b); Health & Safety Code § 166.032(b-1); Estates Code § 305.054; and Estates Code § 1105.052
  2. Requires a Notary invoking this suspension to verify the identity of a person signing a document at the time the signature is taken by using two-way video and audio conference technology.
  3. Authorizes a Notary invoking this suspension to verify identity by personal knowledge of the signing person, or by analysis based on the signing person’s remote presentation of a government-issued identification credential, including a passport or driver’s license, that contains the signature and a photograph of the person.
  4. Requires the signing person to transmit by fax or electronic means a legible copy of the signed document to the Notary, who may notarize the transmitted copy and then transmit the notarized copy back to the signing person by fax or electronic means, at which point the notarization is valid.
  5. Provides that the suspension will remain in effect until terminated by the Governor or until the March 13, 2020 disaster declaration is lifted or expires.
  6. Clarifies that documents executed while this suspension is in effect, and in accordance with its terms, will remain valid after the termination of this suspension.
Analysis:

Texas was among the first wave of states to enact a remote online notarization statute in 2017, allowing a Texas Notary to apply to be commissioned as an Online Notary Public.

In April 2020, the Office of the Attorney General requested the Governor temporarily suspend several statutes concerning appearance before a Notary Public to make it easier for the public to execute important documents during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This suspension allows any Notary and a signer to use a video conference program to satisfy the personal appearance requirement for certain documents (a self-proved will, a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, a directive to physician, or an oath of executor, administrator, or guardian). The Notary must identify the signer using personal knowledge or the signer's presentation on camera of the signer's government-issued ID with a photograph and signature. The signer must then fax or electronically transmit the signed document to the Notary and the Notary may complete the notarization on it. When the Notary transmits the notarized document back to the signer, the notarization is considered complete and valid. This authorization is temporary until the suspension of statute is terminated by the Governor, or the March 13, 2020 disaster declaration is lifted or expires.

Office of the Governor’s Notice of Suspension of Statutes

Governor Press Release – April 8, 2020

Note: Governor Abbott has extended the disaster declaration of March 13, 2020, on a monthly basis. Notaries should regularly check to see the status of the disaster declaration and note when this temporary authorization ends. We will note the Governor’s extensions of the statewide COVID-19 disaster declaration below:

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