Georgia Issues Executive Order to Temporarily Suspend In-Person Notary and Witness Requirements

On March 31, 2020, the Governor of Georgia issued Executive Order No. 03.31.20.01 to temporarily suspend the in-person requirements of a notary public and a witness related to legal documents for real estate transactions.

Specifically, the Order permits the use of real-time audio-visual communication technology or real-time electronic video conferencing to satisfy the requirements that the attestation of a recordable instrument occur in the physical presence of the notary public and that a witness attest or acknowledge an instrument, document, or deed in-person.

The Order does NOT address electronic notarization. Instead, it allows the notary and witness to satisfy their duties by using real-time audio-visual technology. Therefore, as a practical matter, all parties will affix “wet signatures” to paper documents which would then be recorded.

The Order is effective until the Public Health State of Emergency declared in Executive Order No. 03.14.20.01 expires which currently is April 13, 2020, unless renewed by the Governor.

We understand that title insurance underwriters have implemented procedures to support issuance of title insurance in connection with transactions closed in accordance with the Order. We also understand the title underwriters are communicating such requirements to their title insurance agents and to lenders.

We are still determining if loans closed in compliance with the Order will qualify for secondary market delivery through various channels. At this point, we strongly suggest that each lender assess its ability to sell loans closed in accordance with the Order.

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