Remote Witnessing and Notarizing Is Now an Option for Estate Planning Documents
On April 9, 2020, Gov. Bill Lee issued Executive Order No. 26, which temporarily suspends the requirement for “in person” witnessing and notarization of certain documents including Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Deeds, from April 10, 2020, through May 17, 2020.
Documents covered by this Order can be signed by the signatory (the person for whom the documents are prepared), the witnesses, and the notary with each person located at a separate location, provided that the signing must be a physical signing of the documents by the signatory and witnesses (not electronic signing), and must occur via real-time audio and visual communication (Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, etc.) where the signatory, witnesses, and notary can see and hear one another simultaneously. All of the parties must be located in Tennessee at the time of the signing.
The witnesses and notary will be required to verify the identity of the signatory, and the signatory and witnesses must identify the document(s) being signed. The signing and witnessing must be observed via the online conferencing tool by the witnesses and the notary. The documents signed in this manner must include a statement that they are being executed in compliance with Executive Order No. 26. The signed documents may be executed in counterparts (separate signature pages) or the documents can be circulated to the witnesses and notary after the signatory signs the documents, provided that all signatures must be obtained within 10 days of the date the signatory signed the documents.
For more information about Executive Order No. 26, please contact a member of the Chambliss Estate Planning team.
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The material in this publication was created as of the date set forth above and is based on laws, court decisions, administrative rulings, and congressional materials that existed at that time, and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. In some cases, the underlying legal information is changing quickly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The information in this publication is not intended to create, and the transmission and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship. Please contact your legal counsel for advice regarding specific situations.