The State of Michigan continues to be under Governor Whitmer’s “stay home” executive order. The Governor has stated she intends to extend the terms of the order past its original expiration date of April 14. During this time, many legal transactions have become challenging to complete due to in-person signature and notary requirements. In light of these circumstances, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order No. 2020-41 (“the Order”) on April 8. This Order allows and encourages increased use of electronic signatures, remote notarization, and remote witnessing.
The first item addressed by the Order is electronic signatures. Specifically, strict compliance with the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and the Uniform Real Property Electronic Recording Act is temporarily suspended. The suspension is limited to “the extent necessary to permit the use of an electronic signature for a transaction whenever a signature is required under Michigan law, unless the law specifically mandates a physical signature.” In practice, this means the majority of legal documents in Michigan will now be able to be signed electronically. This move should facilitate the completion of many different transactions.
The Order also applies to notarization. Strict compliance with the Michigan Law on Notarial Acts is temporarily suspended, “to the extent it requires a notary to be in the physical presence of an individual seeking the notary’s services or of any required witnesses.” The Order states that any act that must be performed by a notary may be performed by “two-way real-time audiovisual technology.” It should be noted that the Order contains several qualifications which must be met in order to use the remote technology. For example, the person seeking services must still present a valid ID to the notary during the video conference. Notaries should review the specific terms of the Order before conducting video services.
Finally, the Order also applies to in-person witnessing of documents. Like notary services, the witnessing of documents may now be done through “two-way real-time audiovisual technology.” Also like notary services, there are several conditions that must be met in order to make the video witnessing valid. Any attorney conducting a video witnessing should review the Order thoroughly.
The Order is effective immediately and until May 6, 2020. It should come as good news to attorneys and other professionals who are conducting transactions remotely. The attorneys at Dalton & Tomich continue to serve our clients remotely. If you have any questions about the terms of the Order, please do not hesitate to contact us.