On April 9, 2020, Governor Kemp signed executive order 04.09.20.01 titled, “Temporarily Allowing Remote Notarization and Attestation.” This Order allowed for remote notarization and witnessing of certain legal documents in the midst of the COVID19 global pandemic. In short, this order enabled people to be able to execute Wills, healthcare directives and some other legal documents from their home or another location within the state of Georgia, and to have those signed by witnesses and/or a notary public located in another location within the state of Georgia, through the use of real-time two way video conferencing in accordance with the provisions of the executive order.
For those persons desiring to create or update estate planning documents, for example, in the midst of the pandemic, this executive order created an effective way to do so remotely, while social distancing and avoiding contact with others, and also made the process convenient for people, too.
This Executive Order was intended to be a temporary fix, as indicated in its title, and was set to terminate when the declared Public Health State of Emergency in Georgia ended. This Public Health State of Emergency was originally declared to exist by the Governor through a March 14, 2020, Executive Order, and was thereafter extended numerous times. This Public Health State of Emergency is set to expire effective 12:00AM on Thursday, July 1, 2021, pursuant to the most recent Executive Order issued on this matter. Therefore, the ability to utilize remote witnessing and notarization per this temporary order will expire then as well.
So, for now, we revert back to the way it has always been done. You'll need to sign things in the physical presence (and not video presence) of the witnesses or notary public.
I do believe that this is an idea to consider, and that our state legislature should review the matter and consider passing legislation allowing remote witnessing and notarization, even if we are not in the midst of a pandemic. Technology has enabled us to do many things in a more efficient and convenient manner, and it may be appropriate to allow technology to assist in this area too. For now, we can only fondly recall the pandemic days where technology was our friend in this regard, as this temporary ability to handle things remotely has now come to an end.