Michael A. Luberto, Chirco Title Agency, Inc.
Among the laws passed in December 2020 was PA 336 of 2020 which gives options for notarizing real estate documents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The law extends until July 1, 2021 the commission of Michigan notaries that expired after March 1, 2020 and before June 30, 2021.
PA 336 authorizes using audio-visual notarization (“AVN”) through June 30, 2021. With AVN, the signer has paper copies of the documents to be notarized and signs them in front of a Michigan notary using two-way, real-time audiovisual technology (“2WRTAVT”—we have all used this technology the last several months!)
AVN is different from remote online notarization (“RON”) and in-person electronic notarization (“IPEN”). RON involves the signer and notary electronically signing digital records, in a virtual closing room, using one of the platforms approved by the Michigan Secretary of State. IPEN is the same as RON, except the signer and notary are physically together, using the same device.
Requirements for the use of AVN include:
- The 2WRTAVT must allow for direct interaction between the signer and notary, simultaneously by sight and sound.
- The audio-visual signing must be recorded and retained.
- The signer must present identification to the notary during the signing.
- The signer must be physically located in Michigan. If not, the documents must be intended for filing with a Michigan governmental entity or involve Michigan property.
- If the signer is outside of Michigan, the notary must not have actual knowledge that the signing is prohibited by the jurisdiction where the signer is located.
- The signer must send the executed documents to the notary on the day of signing.
- The documents must be notarized upon receipt.
The date of the notarization is the date the documents were signed using 2WRTAVT.
It is possible that AVN may be extended beyond June 30, 2021.
Practice note: Title insurance underwriters have issued bulletins with their requirements and limitations on the use of AVN, such as using AVN for only certain transactions and the authorization of various 2WRTAVT platforms. Check with your title company to be sure you are following their procedures.