Remote Witnessing and Signing of Documents

The COVID-19 Pandemic has and will continue to wreak havoc on commercial and business activity here in Michigan. Until recently, one such impact has been to stifle the signing, witnessing and notarization of documents under the Governor’s various “Shelter in Place” Executive Orders.

Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-41 enables remote witnessing and notarization of documents, under the specified terms.  This is a significant improvement over the current situation, where documents could be remotely signed, but when witnesses and notaries were required, they had to be physically present with the signatories, at least under Michigan law as most understood it.

LAMBERT LAW is happy to report that we have just conducted our first remote witnessing and notarization of client documents.    This was done for a client’s Estate Plan.  The clients could identify and sign the documents during a ZOOM video conference, and we then separately signed the originals in a separate video.

This doesn’t sound like much in this day and age, but the law often moves behind the pace of technology.  This development will enable clients to sign Estate Plan documents, Deeds and other instruments requiring witnesses and notarizations from the comfort of their homes while the Order remains in effect.  You can now do this through LAMBERT LAW.

Here are a few of the requirements from the Executive Order:

  1. The participants must use a two way audiovisual service such as Zoom, GoTo Meeting or Skype enabling the witnesses, notary and signatory to see and hear each other.
  2. There must be a video and audio recording of all signings.
  3. Signers must clearly identify and display the title and signature page of each signed document.
  4. Signed documents must be sent to the witnesses and notaries the day of signing.

Those are the highlights – there are additional details.  For now, we have been thrown a lifeline to conduct some remote signings, at least until May 6, 2020.  Here’s hoping this sort of activity will continue to be allowed for much longer than that.

Caution: This article provides general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should contact LAMBERT LAW, 407 6th St., Ste A, Rochester, MI 48307 (248) 642-7774 if you are seeking specific legal advice regarding the topics discussed above.