By Amanda Crouch
Governor Greg Abbott has ordered suspended statutes to allow a notary public to appear via videoconference to execute certain documents, including a self-proved will, a durable power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, a directive to physician, or an oath of an executor, administrator or guardian. The suspension is intended to permit flexibility for notaries to execute these documents without the need for in-person contact to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
Under the Governor’s order, the following conditions must be present for a notary public to utilize videoconference during this suspension:
- The notary public shall verify the identity of a person signing a document at the time the signature is taken by using two-way video and audio conference technology, such as FaceTime.
- The notary public may verify the signing person’s identity by the notary’s personal knowledge or by review of the signing person’s remote presentation of a government-issued ID, including a passport or driver’s license, that contains the signature and a photograph of the person.
- The signing person shall transmit by fax or electronic means a legible copy of the signed document to the notary public, who may notarize the transmitted copy and then transmit the notarized copy back to the signing person by fax or electronic means, at which point the notarization is valid.
The Governor directed that this suspension remain in effect until terminated by the Office of the Governor or until the Governor’s March 13, 2020 disaster declaration is lifted or expires. The Governor also ordered that documents executed in accordance with these terms while this suspension is in effect will remain valid after termination of this suspension. This suspension and exercise of authority is unprecedented, so notaries should consult an attorney with questions. Additionally, due to the novelty and uniqueness of the COVID-19 situation, no Texas Court has ever opined on the validity of this order.
Amanda N. Crouch is a commercial litigator who regularly practices in state and federal court. Amanda has represented clients in a wide range of litigation matters, including oil and gas disputes, creditor representation, financial institution disputes, life insurance disputes, and defending personal injury claims.
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