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Texas Governor’s Executive Order: Appearance Before a (Traditional) Notary Public by Videoconference Technology, Specified Document Types Only

Effective April 8, 2020
Remains in effect until terminated by the Office of the Governor or until the March 13, 2020 disaster declaration is lifted or expires. 
https://www.sos.state.tx.us/statdoc/notary-public.shtml

PLEASE NOTE: The permissions granted under the Governor’s Executive Order apply only if the notarization is for 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. Notaries asked to officiate as provided in the Executive Order must carefully assess whether the document to be notarized is any of those listed above.

By Executive Order, Governor Greg Abbott has suspended Texas statutes requiring physical appearance of a “signing person” (document signer) before a Traditional Notary Public, if the document requiring notarization is 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.

This means that while the Executive Order is in effect, a Texas Notary who is not also commissioned as a Texas Online Notary Public may use videoconference technology to interact with a signing person who is not physically present, if the notarization is for one of the specified document types.

Absent any clarification to the contrary, performance of notarial acts under the Governor’s Executive Order requires both the Notary Public and the signing person to be physically located in Texas at the time of notarization. (American Society of Notaries recommends that the Notary Public obtain the signing person’s affirmative statement that he or she is physically located in Texas.)

The Order specifies that for a (Traditional) Notary to officiate using videoconference technology, the following conditions must be met:

Conditions Stated in the Executive Order Comments, Recommendations
The Notary Public must verify the identity of the person signing a document at the time the signature is taken by using two-way video and audio conference technology.   The videoconference technology should provide sufficient audio clarity and visual resolution to enable the Notary and signing person to see and hear each other simultaneously in real-time, with no significant interruptions, lags or blurriness.
A Notary Public may verify identity by personal knowledge of the signing person, or by analysis based on the signing person’s remote presentation of a government-issued identification credential, including a passport or driver’s license, that contains the signature and a photograph of the person. If not personally known to the Notary, the signing person will hold up his or her identification credential (the customary, acceptable forms containing a signature and photograph) to the web camera, and the Notary will visually scan the credential to verify the signing person’s identity.
  If the document is unsigned or requires an oath or affirmation, the Notary must witness the person sign the document. The Notary will take the signing person’s acknowledgment of his/her signature; or administer an oath or affirmation; as indicated by the notarial language (certificate) on the document.
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. If notarizing with an electronic signature on an editable electronic document, the Traditional Notary Public will complete the notarial certificate on the electronic document, electronically sign the certificate, and then electronically send the document back to the signing person. Under Texas law, a Traditional Notary Public’s electronic signature satisfies statutory requirements for the Notary’s handwritten signature if the electronic signature, “…. together with all other information required to be included by other applicable law [i.e., the notarial certificate, required seal information, commission expiration date, etc.] is attached to or logically associated with the signature or record.”

If notarizing with a wet-ink signature and ink-stamp, the Notary will paper out the document sent by the signing person; complete, sign and seal the notarial certificate; and send the document back to the signing person by fax or electronic means.
  Notary Records: Every notarial act performed must be recorded in a tangible (paper) or electronic recordbook maintained by the Notary. American Society of Notaries recommends that this recordbook entry include a notation that the notarization was performed by videoconference technology under Executive Order dated April 8, 2020. (Texas does not require the signing person’s signature in the recordbook, and it cannot be obtained since the signing person is remotely located.)

Finally, the Executive Order states, “Documents executed while this suspension is in effect, and in accordance with its terms, will remain valid after the termination of this suspension.”

The content of this post was provided by the American Society of Notaries. ASN is the nation's original non-profit association that exists to provide its members with education, professional service and technical support; promoting high ethical standards; and increasing public awareness of notaries' valuable contributions.