New Michigan Executive Order Provides for Remote Notarization Services

COVID-19, and Governor Whitmer’s “Stay-Home, Stay-Safe Order,” have dramatically changed many aspects of Michigan life. As the uncertainty of the current day continues, many individuals have begun to consider the need for estate planning to protect their loved ones should the worst happen.

Unfortunately, due to the intricacies of Michigan probate law, it has been practically impossible to execute wills and other estate documents, as many of these documents must be notarized in-person. Thankfully, a new executive order has been implemented that will allow for the remote notarization necessary to enact these documents while protecting public health.

Executive Order 2020-41 establishes new, temporary rules for electronic and remote notarization. Now, an electronic signature will be valid in all instances where an underlying law does not require a physical signature. Notaries may now witness documents without being physically present, subject to certain minimum standards relating to two-way, real-time, audio visual technology.

These requirements include:

  1. The technology must allow direct interaction between the person seeking the notary’s services, any witnesses, and the notary, through both sight and sound;
  2. The technology must be able to record the notarial act, and that recording must be retained by the notary;
  3. The person seeking the notary’s services and any witnesses must present satisfactory evidence of identity to the notary during the video conference (not before or after);
  4. The person seeking the notary’s services must represent that they are either within the State’s physical borders, or that the document being notarized is related to a Michigan lawsuit or involves a Michigan property;
  5. Any signatures on the document being notarized must be made in a that makes any subsequent modification or tampering evident; and
  6. The underlying document must be sent to the notary on the same day it was signed.

Once received, the notary can then execute the document and must return it to the signing party. The date and time of notarization is the date and time the signatures were witnessed using two-way technology.

The order also contains additional information relating to the witnessing of documents, special rules relating to financial institutions, and government agencies. In short, these significant changes help to ensure that Michigan’s citizens can continue to get the notary services necessary for estate planning and other legal matters without having to compromise their health or the health of their loved ones.

Do you or a loved one need help with estate planning during these difficult times? Contact our experienced probate attorneys at Grewal Law PLLC by calling (888) 211-5798 today.