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From the State Bar of Georgia…

Late yesterday afternoon, Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order
permitting remote notarization and witnessing of all documents. The
State Bar is grateful for the work of Gov. Kemp and his staff who
recognized the critical need for remote notarization and witnessing in
Georgia during this unprecedented time and the importance of maintaining
access to legal services through this crisis. Additionally, we
appreciate the counsel of the State Bar’s Fiduciary Section and Family
Law Section who gave critical input in the process.

The executive order provides a basic framework that must be followed
for notarization and witnessing using real time audio-visual technology.
Notably, a notary public performing a notarial act using real time
audio-visual technology pursuant to the executive order must be a
licensed Georgia attorney or a notary public supervised by a licensed
Georgia attorney. The signer must also present proof of his or her
identity to the notary via real time audio-visual technology.
Additionally, a document notarized or witnessed using real-time audio
visual technology must be signed, certified, and executed by the notary
and/or witness(es) on the same calendar day that the signer signs the
document.

The order reads in relevant part:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED

That any purported requirement under the laws of this state that a
notarial act performed pursuant to Chapter 17 of Title 45 of the
Official Code of Georgia must occur in the physical presence of the
notary public is hereby suspended, and any such act may be performed
remotely if the all following requirements are met:

1. The notary public uses real-time audio-video communication
technology or any similar real-time means of electronic video
conferencing that allows the parties to communicate with each other
simultaneously by sight and sound in order to notarize signatures.

2. The notary public is an attorney licensed to practice law in the
State of Georgia or is operating under the supervision of an attorney
licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia. As used here, the term
“supervision” shall mean that the notary public is an employee,
independent contractor, agent, or other representative of an attorney or
an attorney observes the execution of documents either in­ person or
via the real-time audio-video communication technology.

3. The signer requiring the notarial act from the notary public presents
satisfactory evidence of identity as required in Code Section 45-17-8,
while connected to the real-time audio-video communication technology.

4. The notary public is physically located in the state of Georgia.

5. The signer transmits a copy of the signed document to the notary
public on the same date it was executed for execution by the notary.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

That any requirement under Georgia law, including, but not limited
to, Code Sections 10-6B-5, 15-9-86, 19-3-62, 19-8-4, 19-8-5,
19-8-6,19-8-7, 29-2-11, 29-4-3, 29-5-3, 31-32-5, 44-5-128, 44-5-143,
44-5-144, 44-5-145, or 53-4-20, including a power of attorney, verified
petition filed in probate court, antenuptial agreement, surrender of
rights for adoption, return filed in probate court, standby guardian
designation, nomination of guardian, nomination of conservator, advance
directive for health care, designation of successor custodian, will,
codicil, or other document be signed, subscribed, executed, witnessed,
attested, acknowledged, or affirmed in the physical presence of another
individual or other individuals may be satisfied by the use of
audio-video communication technology or any similar real-time means of
electronic video conferencing that allows all of the parties to
communicate with each other simultaneously by sight and sound.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

That the official date and time of the notarization or witnessing
performed via the use of audio-video communication technology or any
similar real-time means of electronic video conferencing pursuant to
this Order shall be the date and time when the notary and/or witness(es)
witness the signature via the video conference technology.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

That all documents notarized or witnessed via the use of audio-video
communication technology or any similar real-time means of electronic
video conferencing pursuant to this Order shall be signed, certified,
and executed, as appropriate, by the notary and/or witness(es) on the
same calendar day that the signer signs the document. 

You can read the entire order here.

The Bar appreciates the patience of so many Georgia lawyers who have
eagerly awaited this order. We encourage those who plan to notarize and
witness legal documents through these means to closely follow the
instruction of the executive order. The State Bar’s ethics helpline is
available to assist lawyers with any questions at
404-527-8741/800-682-9806 or via email by logging in to the State Bar
website. Additionally, we plan to post best practices for using this
technology in conjunction with relevant sections on the State Bar’s COVID-19 resources page.

Please keep in mind that this executive order, like those that have
proceeded it, is intended to encourage social distancing and curb
exposure to COVID-19. While the governor has designated entities
providing legal services as “critical infrastructure,” we encourage law
firms and other legal service entities to work remotely if they have the
capacity to do so.

My hope is that you all remain safe and healthy as our profession
continues to grapple with this national public health emergency. 

Sincerely,

Darrell Sutton

President, State Bar of Georgia
[email protected] 



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Charlie McCook

Associate Attorney at Taulbee, Rushing, Snipes, Marsh, & Hodgin LLP

Charlie
Deal McCook is an associate at Taulbee, Rushing, Snipes, Marsh and
Hodgin, LLC. A graduate of Georgia Southern University and the Georgia
States University School of Law, Charlie is a litigator whose experience
covers an expansive number of legal areas.  

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