Michigan Temporarily Embraces 21st Century Virtual Technology Document Signing
Published: April, 2020
Submission: April, 2020
Related Articles in
Latest Firm's Press
On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-41 (the “Order”), which relaxes the witness and notary requirements for documents that would otherwise require in-person witnessing and/or notarization, such as Michigan estate planning documents, executed during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, if certain requirements are met (details below), documents may be witnessed or notarized using two-way, real-time audiovisual technology.
The Order is significant as certain documents, in particular Wills, Patient Advocate Designations, and Durable Powers of Attorney, are normally required under Michigan law to be witnessed “in the presence of” two witnesses. In light of prior executive orders issued by the Governor, including the prohibition of all public and private gatherings among persons not part of a single household, it has become challenging to satisfy in-person witnessing requirements. This is especially true for Patient Advocate Designations, where most close family members are prohibited from serving as witnesses. By permitting witnesses and notaries to take advantage of technology, the Order permits estate planning and other important documents to be executed while maintaining compliance with social distancing guidelines.
Relaxation of Notarization Formalities
The Order provides that a Notary Public may notarize a principal’s signature without being physically present at the time a document is signed provided that the following requirements are met:
Relaxation of Witness Attestation Formalities
The Order provides that, for any document which otherwise requires an in-person witness attestation to a principal’s signature, a witness may attest to the principal’s signature without being physically present at the time the document is signed, provided that the following requirements are met:
Signing in Counterparts
Absent any prohibition in the document to be signed to the contrary, any document executed in accordance with the Order may be signed in counterparts.
Obligations Placed on Financial Institutions and Registers of Deeds
For the duration of the Order, no financial institution or register of deeds may refuse to accept a tangible copy of an electronic record executed pursuant to the Order for lack of original signatures. However, such institution or register may require the Notary Public before whom the document was executed to certify that the tangible copy submitted to such institution or register is an accurate copy of the document.
Duration of the Order
The Order is effective as of the date of issuance (April 8, 2020) and will expire at 11:59 PM on May 6, 2020.
Although the Order permits the use of videoconferencing to execute documents which would otherwise require in-person witnessing and notarization (such as estate planning documents), those choosing to sign documents in this manner should consider remote witnessing and notarization as a temporary solution and may want to consider re-executing any documents signed using remote witness attestation or notarization after the cessation of the state of emergency in a manner complying with normal witnessing and notarization formalities.
For more information regarding Michigan Executive Order 2020-41 or options for executing an estate plan or estate plan update, please contact Rob Tiplady (734-214-7644 or [email protected]), Tony Frasca (734-214-7614 or [email protected]), Michael Cumming (248-203-0740 or [email protected]), Marie Deveney (734-214-7662 or [email protected]),Tyler Kemper (734-214-7694 or [email protected]), or your Dykema relationship attorney.
Related Articles in
- Shearn Delamore & Co. Newsletter September 2021
- USTR Announces Process for Reinstating Certain Section 301 China Tariff Product Exclusions
- El Salvador: Advance payment of the Income Tax
- Trusts, turmoil, and the tropics – a Cayman Islands perspective
Latest Firm's Press
WSG Member: Please login to add your comment.