By Executive Order 2020-74 (and its predecessor, Executive Order 2020-41), and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor of the State of Michigan has temporarily allowed e-signatures and remote notarization on official and legal documents. In practice, implementation of this Order cuts down on in-person contact when a document needs to be witnessed or notarized.
The Order permits remote witnessing and notarization via two-way real-time audio and visual technology. The technology, however, must permit the meeting to be recorded. Many lawyers use Zoom, which allows the lawyer, the notary and the client to see, hear and interact with each other at the time of signing the document and will record the meeting. In practice, these meetings require the client to have a smart phone or other device that has a webcam and to be able to use Zoom. There are several requirements in the Order, including having the client confirm that their physical location as being in Michigan or involving Michigan real property or transactions substantially connected to the state, with which the attorney and client must comply.
If all of the conditions set forth in the Order are met, financial institutions and registers of deeds cannot refuse to record a document simply because it does not have original signatures.
Our attorneys have been utilizing technology and, consistent with the Governor’s Executive Orders, have been conducting the signing of estate plans, deeds and other documents.