During this unprecedented time, we often find ourselves looking for ways to adapt and function to continue on with the tasks that still present themselves. In response to the continued need to have important legal documents notarized and witnessed, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently issued Executive Orders 202.7 and 202.14 authorizing the use of remote notarization and witnessing execution of legal documents by audio-video technology.

This extraordinary action taken by Gov. Cuomo ensures that New Yorkers can continue to conduct essential business matters while remaining safely quarantined in their homes during the PAUSE put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many New Yorkers, these Executive Orders will allow them to execute important estate planning documents, like a Durable Power of Attorney, Advanced Health Care directives, Last Wills and Testament, and Trust agreement, which will ensure that their financial, health care, and estate planning wishes can be honored in the event something should happen to them.

REMOTE NOTARIZATION

To validly notarize a document under Executive Order 202.7, the following rules must be adhered to:

Any notarial act that is required under New York State law is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that the following conditions are met:

1. The person seeking the Notary’s services, if not personally known to the Notary, must present valid photo ID to the Notary during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after;

2. The video conference must allow for direct interaction between the person and the Notary (e.g. no pre-recorded videos of the person signing);

3. The person must affirmatively represent that he or she is physically situated in the State of New York;

4. The person must transmit by fax or electronic means a legible copy of the signed document directly to the Notary on the same date it was signed;

5. The Notary may notarize the transmitted copy of the document and transmit the same back to the person; and

6. The Notary may repeat the notarization of the original signed document as of the date of execution provided the Notary receives such original signed document together with the electronically notarized copy within thirty days after the date of execution.

REMOTE WITNESSING

The authorized act of remote witnessing granted in Executive Order 202.14 is only extended to documents authorized by specific New York State laws referenced in the Executive Order. Therefore, it is important for you to carefully review the provisions of the Executive Order prior to relying upon the act of remote witnessing.

The act of witnessing that is required under the aforementioned New York State laws is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that the following conditions are met:

1. The person requesting that their signature be witnessed, if not personally known to the witness(es), must present a valid photo ID to the witness(es) during the video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after;

2. The video conference must allow for direct interaction between the person and the witness(es), and the supervising attorney, if applicable (e.g. no pre-recorded videos of the person signing);

3. The witnesses must receive a legible copy of the signature page(s), which may be transmitted via fax or electronic means, on the same date that the pages are signed by the person;

4. The witness(es) may sign the transmitted copy of the signature page(s) and transmit the same back to the person; and

5. The witness(es) may repeat the witnessing of the original signature page(s) as of the date of execution provided the witness(es) receive such original signature pages together with the electronically witnessed copies within thirty days after the date of execution.

It should be noted that Executive Order 202.7 (Remote Notarization), is effective March 19, 2020 through May 7, 2020, and Executive Order 202.14 (Remote Witnessing) is effective April 7, 2020 through May 7, 2020. Executive Order 202.18, extends Remote Notarization (Executive Order 202.7) and Remote Witnessing (Executive Order 202.14) through May 15, 2020.

As you navigate through these uncertain times, Russo Law Group remains available to be a resource to you. Please visit us on our website www.vjrussolaw.com or contact us at (516) 683-1717.

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